Skinny and flaxen-haired, his skin walnut brown and his eyes a startling turquoise, Burgell stood half as tall as Aeron and had to climb up on a stool to look out the peephole. Like most habitations in Oeble, that particular tenement had been built for humans, and smaller residents coped with the resulting awkwardness as best they could.
But at least the relative largeness of the apartment gave Burgell room to pack in all his gnome-sized gear. The front room was his workshop, and it contained a bewildering miscellany of tools: hammers, chisels, saws, lockpicks, tinted lenses, jeweler’s loupes, and jars of powdered and shredded ingredients for casting spells. A fat gray cat, the mage’s familiar, lay curled atop a grimoire. It opened its eyes, gave Aeron a disdainful yellow stare, then appeared to go back to sleep.
A constant hum of busy activity pervades the warrens and neighborhoods where gnomes form their close-knit communities. Louder sounds punctuate the hum: a crunch of grinding gears here, a minor explosion there, a yelp of surprise or triumph, and especially bursts of laughter. Gnomes take delight in life, enjoying every moment of invention, exploration, investigation, creation, and play.
A gnome’s energy and enthusiasm for living shines through every inch of his or her tiny body. Gnomes average slightly over 3 feet tall and weigh 40 to 45 pounds. Their tan or brown faces are usually adorned with broad smiles (beneath their prodigious noses), and their bright eyes shine with excitement. Their fair hair has a tendency to stick out in every direction, as if expressing the gnome’s insatiable interest in everything around.
A gnome’s personality is writ large in his or her appearance. A male gnome’s beard, in contrast to his wild hair, is kept carefully trimmed but often styled into curious forks or neat points. A gnome’s clothing, though usually made in modest earth tones, is elaborately decorated with embroidery, embossing, or gleaming jewels.
As far as gnomes are concerned, being alive is a wonderful thing, and they squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of their three to five centuries of life. Humans might wonder about getting bored over the course of such a long life, and elves take plenty of time to savor the beauties of the world in their long years, but gnomes seem to worry that even with all that time, they can’t get in enough of the things they want to do and see.
Gnomes speak as if they can’t get the thoughts out of their heads fast enough. Even as they offer ideas and opinions on a range of subjects, they still manage to listen carefully to others, adding the appropriate exclamations of surprise and appreciation along the way.
Though gnomes love jokes of all kinds, particularly puns and pranks, they’re just as dedicated to the more serious tasks they undertake. Many gnomes are skilled engineers, alchemists, tinkers, and inventors. They’re willing to make mistakes and laugh at themselves in the process of perfecting what they do, taking bold (sometimes foolhardy) risks and dreaming large.
Gnomes make their homes in hilly, wooded lands. They live underground but get more fresh air than dwarves do, enjoying the natural, living world on the surface whenever they can. Their homes are well hidden by both clever construction and simple illusions. Welcome visitors are quickly ushered into the bright, warm burrows. Those who are not welcome are unlikely to find the burrows in the first place.
Gnomes who settle in human lands are commonly gemcutters, engineers, sages, or tinkers. Some human families retain gnome tutors, ensuring that their pupils enjoy a mix of serious learning and delighted enjoyment. A gnome might tutor several generations of a single human family over the course of his or her long life.
Gnomes love names, and most have half a dozen or so. A gnome’s mother, father, clan elder, aunts, and uncles each give the gnome a name, and various nicknames from just about everyone else might or might not stick over time. Gnome names are typically variants on the names of ancestors or distant relatives, though some are purely new inventions. When dealing with humans and others who are “stuffy” about names, a gnome learns to use no more than three names: a personal name, a clan name, and a nickname, choosing the one in each category that’s the most fun to say.
Male Names: Alston, Alvyn, Boddynock, Brocc, Burgell, Dimble, Eldon, Erky, Fonkin, Frug, Gerbo, Gimble, Glim, Jebeddo, Kellen, Namfoodle, Orryn, Roondar, Seebo, Sindri, Warryn, Wrenn, Zook
Female Names: Bimpnottin, Breena, Caramip, Carlin, Donella, Duvamil, Ella, Ellyjobell, Ellywick, Lilli, Loopmottin, Lorilla, Mardnab, Nissa, Nyx, Oda, Orla, Roywyn, Shamil, Tana, Waywocket, Zanna
Clan Names: Beren, Daergel, Folkor, Garrick, Nackle, Murnig, Ningel, Raulnor, Scheppen, Timbers, Turen
Nicknames: Aleslosh, Ashhearth, Badger, Cloak, Doublelock, Filchbatter, Fnipper, Ku, Nim, Oneshoe, Pock, Sparklegem, Stumbleduck
Seeing the World
Curious and impulsive, gnomes might take up adventuring as a way to see the world or for the love of exploring. As lovers of gems and other fine items, some gnomes take to adventuring as a quick, if dangerous, path to wealth. Regardless of what spurs them to adventure, gnomes who adopt this way of life eke as much enjoyment out of it as they do out of any other activity they undertake, sometimes to the great annoyance of their adventuring companions.
It’s rare for a gnome to be hostile or malicious unless he or she has suffered a grievous injury. Gnomes know that most races don’t share their sense of humor, but they enjoy anyone’s company just as they enjoy everything else they set out to do.
Choose one of the subraces below or one from another source.
A third subrace of gnomes, the deep gnomes (or svirfneblin), live in small communities scattered in the Underdark. Unlike the duergar and the drow, svirfneblin are as good as their surface cousins. However, their humor and enthusiasm are dampened by their oppressive environment, and their inventive expertise is directed mostly toward stonework.
Gnome TraitsYour gnome character has certain characteristics in common with all other gnomes.
Ability Score Increase
Your Intelligence score increases by 2.
Gnomes mature at the same rate humans do, and most are expected to settle down into an adult life by around age 40. They can live 350 to almost 500 years.
Gnomes are most often good. Those who tend toward law are sages, engineers, researchers, scholars, investigators, or inventors. Those who tend toward chaos are minstrels, tricksters, wanderers, or fanciful jewelers. Gnomes are good-hearted, and even the tricksters among them are more playful than vicious.
Gnomes are between 3 and 4 feet tall and average about 40 pounds. Your size is Small.
Your base walking speed is 25 feet.
Accustomed to life underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
You have advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws against magic.
You can speak, read, and write Common and Gnomish. The Gnomish language, which uses the Dwarvish script, is renowned for its technical treatises and its catalogs of knowledge about the natural world.
Forest gnomes and rock gnomes are the gnomes most commonly encountered in the lands of the surface world. There is another subrace of gnomes rarely seen by any surface-dweller: deep gnomes, also known as svirfneblin. Guarded, and suspicious of outsiders, svirfneblin are cunning and taciturn, but can be just as kind-hearted, loyal, and compassionate as their surface cousins.
When you create a gnome character, you may choose the deep gnome as an alternative to the subraces in the Player’s Handbook.
Ability Score Increase
Your Dexterity score increases by 1.
Deep gnomes are short-lived for gnomes. They mature at the same rate humans do and are considered full-grown adults by 25. They live 200 to 250 years, although hard toil and the dangers of the Underdark often claim them before their time.
Svirfneblin believe that survival depends on avoiding entanglements with other creatures and not making enemies, so they favor neutral alignments. They rarely wish others ill, and they are unlikely to take risks on behalf of others.
A typical svirfneblin stands about 3 to 3½ feet tall and weighs 80 to 120 pounds. Your size is Small.
Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.
You have advantage on Dexterity (stealth) checks to hide in rocky terrain.
You can speak, read, and write Common, Gnomish, and Undercommon. The svirfneblin dialect is more guttural than surface Gnomish, and most svirfneblin know only a little bit of Common, but those who deal with outsiders (and that includes you as an adventurer) pick up enough Common to get by in other lands.
Mark of Scribing Gnome
“Communication is the foundation of civilization.”
— Lysse Lorridan d’Sivis, House Matriarch
The Mark of Scribing deals with communication — both the written and spoken word. A gnome who bears the mark can feel words as though they are living creatures, struggling to make their meaning known. The mark provides a range of gifts. It translates languages, but it also allows its bearer to speak to others at a distance and to inscribe their words wherever they wish. House Sivis The gnomes of House Sivis facilitate communication. This is seen most literally in speaking stones, magic items allowing a Sivis heir to send a short message to another speaking stone; House Sivis’s network of message stations is the backbone of long-distance communication. But Sivis also trains and licenses scribes, notaries, interpreters, cartographers, barristers, heralds, bookbinders and more. House Sivis has an especially close relationship with House Kundarak, as Kundarak letters of credit must be notarized with a Sivis arcane mark.
House Sivis has taken great pains to maintain the trust of its clients and takes a position of absolute neutrality in all disputes, whether between houses or nations. Gnomes have a natural love of intrigue, and the different families within the house often engage in subtle schemes and feuds, but these are never allowed to threaten the house as a whole. Sivis gnomes are typically friendly, curious, and engaging; but that kindly exterior may conceal a scheming mind.
Ability Score Increase
Your Charisma score increases by 1.
You are proficient with calligrapher’s supplies and the forgery kit. When you make an ability check using either one of these tools, you can roll one Intuition die, a d4, and add the number rolled to the ability check.
You can cast comprehend languages once with this trait, and you regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for it.
You know the cantrip message. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability when casting it.
You can speak, read, and write one extra language of your choice.
As a rock gnome, you have a natural inventiveness and hardiness beyond that of other gnomes. Most gnomes in the worlds of D&D are rock gnomes, including the tinker gnomes of the Dragonlance setting.
Ability Score Increase
Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to magic items, alchemical objects, or technological devices, you can add twice your proficiency bonus, instead of any proficiency bonus you normally apply.
You have proficiency with artisan’s tools (tinker’s tools). Using those tools, you can spend 1 hour and 10 gp worth of materials to construct a Tiny clockwork device (AC 5, 1 hp). The device ceases to function after 24 hours (unless you spend 1 hour repairing it to keep the device functioning), or when you use your action to dismantle it; at that time, you can reclaim the materials used to create it. You can have up to three such devices active at a time.
When you create a device, choose one of the following options:
Clockwork Toy. This toy is a clockwork animal, monster, or person, such as a frog, mouse, bird, dragon, or soldier. When placed on the ground, the toy moves 5 feet across the ground on each of your turns in a random direction. It makes noises as appropriate to the creature it represents.
Fire Starter. The device produces a miniature flame, which you can use to light a candle, torch, or campfire. Using the device requires your action.
Music Box. When opened, this music box plays a single song at a moderate volume.
The box stops playing when it reaches the song’s end or when it is closed.