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Thread: Gnomes - in BR?

  1. #1

    Gnomes - in BR?

    I know that officially there are no gnomes in the birthright setting. But if you were going to add them in the same vein as the elves and dwarves of BR (i.e. more from myth than Tolkien), how would you do it? Both background-wise and mechanic-wise. One thing I've always disliked about d&d gnomes is the trickster/joker theme, and the silly techy theme.

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    Site Moderator Sorontar's Avatar
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    My party encountered them deep underground in Cerilia. Their community was one of myth, so their prehistory remained as a big unknown. We performed a task for them, then left. I can't remember what we got in return.

    If I was DMing it myself, I suspect that the Shadow World would make their presence as individuals or a community easier to explain. They could also be treated as a genetic offshoot of the dwarves, may created by one of the Lost. They need not be mechanically minded, but I like the idea that they are great craftsmen. Maybe they could sort of be based on the doozers on Fraggle Rock - not much said, but lots understood between them. Perhaps they add order to the Shadow World through their skills.

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    Member Arentak's Avatar
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    The world is large, with many continents and islands, and untold civilizations underground or underwater. I see no problems with adding gnomes wherever you think it might fit. Since there were presumably no gnomes at Deismarr, I'd assume their blooded scions are very few and far between.

    Technology can be ignored, damn Dragonlance for associating gnomes with tech forever. Read the first drizzt book. There's a small section on Svirfneblin culture and stuff in there. Maybe the Orogs have been kept in check by gnomes as much as dwarves, but the gnomes are very very deep, and the dwarves don't even know about them. You could introduce them to the campaign as Orog prisoners rescued by Dwarves.

    Maybe gnomes have a strong civilization and completely control a continent, but they are afraid of water, and so dont know much about the outside world, perhaps its out of trade range and so little contact has been made, if any. Or maybe they are great seafarers, and their fine vessels have finally landed in Cerilia, offloading all sorts of goods to trade.

    Option 1 are dour, grim, and very dwarf-like, option 2 are a little more happy go lucky(think halfling) type, or alternately, treat them as Star Trek Ferengi...ripping people off and leaving a trail of upset buyers in their wake...
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    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    I think Arentak's option #2 is about the only worthwhile use for gnomes I have ever heard of.
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    You could use the original D&D kobold concept for them. Now kobold are distant relatives of dragons, but they were just small beings with dog faces. Except dog faces, gnomes could be quite similar to kobolds, maybe less evil but even more deceptive. After all one definition of kobold is german gnome that lives in a mine.

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    Junior Member Swashbuckler's Avatar
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    If I had to add gnomes to the Birthright realm:

    - a smallish clan (only around 200 total or so)
    - conquered and subjugated long ago
    - now serve as the Gorgon's personal stock for meals (in short, they are bred to be 'et' (southern US slang for the past-tense of 'eat'.))

    I know this doesn't help, but it's my only take on gnomes in the setting. :-D
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    Senior Member Jaleela's Avatar
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    They are not listed as an “official” race for players to use, however, they are listed in the 2e AD&D creature list in the original rule book. I think they are mentioned in “King of the Giantdowns”, again, not as an official player race.

    Possibilities:
    • Dwarven sub-species in the Northern hemisphere. Smaller than average to survive on meager food stuffs.
    • Fey origin
    • An experiment by one of the Lost or another Awnsheglian.
    • Undiscovered race: maybe they’re an ancient race that lives on an island, which would explain their small numbers or the fact they are “undiscovered”.


    If you don’t want them Technologically oriented, then you don’t have to have them that way. Look to folklore.

    Gnomes, or similar creatures, are the keepers of knowledge in regard to the earth. They are “earth-dwellers”. They use tricks, such as magic to remain hidden from the world of men and elves. I view them as being more elemental in their magic, being able to tease valuables out of the earth in ways that would make the dwarves jealous. They can be beneficent or malicious depending on their mood or something that has offended them. I would look more to Scandinavian folklore than Tolkien. Like a Tomte or Nisse (or even a combination).

    • Shapeshifting ability into that of a normal sized human or elf (which may explain why no one knows about them)
    • Skilled at Illusion
    • Can make themselves invisible
    • Tempermental/easily offended which could lead to the escalation of pranks to outright evil tendencies. Though I think D&D Gnomes are typically listed as “good” of some variety.


    I would place them in the wilds of the Rjurik Highlands. This would also explain why they may or may not have been discovered.
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    Gnomes - in BR? [9#28454]

    If someone REALLY wanted to put gnomes in their BR campaign, I`d
    suggest these possible methods:

    1. The offspring of a awn-/ersheghlien. There are several races
    (sahuagin with the Kraken, lizard folk with the Hydra) who appear
    more or less only as progeny of that particular iconic creature. One
    could incorporate gnomes as the children of an ershegh, especially a
    halfling or a dwarf.

    2. Extra-planar transplants. Entire provinces of Cerilia were
    transported into the Ravenloft setting in a kind of campaign
    crossover, so you could theoretically bring them in from Greyhawk.

    3. Travellers from a far off continent on Aebrynis. People have
    written up animal races and Oriental adventures kinds of things for
    BR, so gnomes aren`t that far afield given that the possibilities are
    more or less neverending....

    4. There is a "lost province" that was never named on the map for
    Cerilia. It`s actually called "Lost Realm" in the BR computer game
    and "Skywode" in the BR netbook. I kind of like the idea that it is
    both.... It is unexplained as far as source materials go, meaning
    you could do whatever you want with it. I could imagine gnomes
    existing in some sort of weird transition between worlds in that
    province. A province where the bizarre crossover between worlds
    means technology operates there that would not exist anywhere else in
    the setting. Or, maybe, there`s just a gate to Mechanus or something
    like that. Gnomes existing in such a place might be doable,
    especially if you give it a kind of BR feel. They aren`t gnomes in
    the sense that they exist in other campaign worlds, but BR gnomes
    that differ from the norm in the same way that BR halflings differ
    from standard ones.

    5. A unique creature. The existence of a single character is
    possible. There is, for example, the occasional drow for some reason
    in BR. There are members of The Lost who appear are incredibly
    ancient and could degenerate/evolve into just about anything. A
    single character can appear in BR due to some planar shift/accident.

    Gary

  9. #9
    I think my request has been largely misunderstood. I was not looking for a way to shoehorn them into BR with minimal changes, but adding them to the background wholesale. I.e. like dwarves and elves, they've always been there (and have always been known by humans). Probably even pre-human, at least in Cerilia.

    I realize that gnomes did not exist in Scandinavian myth. But if you were going to give them a similar treatment (as was done with the elves and dwarves of BR), what would you do with them? What is their culture like? What was their involvement in the the wars between the gods? What are they like now? What is their opinion of humans? How do they fit into the political world of BR?

    I've got a few ideas floating around in my head, but I was hoping to get some thoughts on the subject before I infected you all with my notions.
    Last edited by Naughtical; 03-05-2014 at 04:35 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    In that case I have one word for you: Thaele
    Call me Bob.
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