Below is a summary of information on gnome society presented in The Complete Book of Gnomes and Halflings and Races of Stone



Most gnomes make use of leather and natural tones in their clothing, using a pallette of browns, whites, yellows, greens, blues, and grays. Those who wish to make a statement with their clothing might dress in exotic colors such as red, purple, and orange.

The typical male gnomish outfit is opaque tights or close-fitting breeches, decorated with patterns or stripes, dyed or sewn together in contrasting colors. Shirts are likewise tailored for a close fit, and are of light, breathable fabric. A tooled leather vest or doublet is worn over this, which is typically left brown. Gnomes favor a side for fastening their doubets, and have high, asymmetrical collars. Formal doublets might be made of velvet, silk, or gold cloth, and are reserved for formal occasions. Slashed sleeves might be worn by those at the height of fashion, or entertainers. Boots are knee-high, typically matching the doublet. Square-toed boots are typically for work, while pointed boots are used for more formal occasions.

For females, the structure is largely the same. Some shirts are worn cropped, exposing the midriff, and when there are sleeves, they tend to be either blousy and light, or form-fitting and quite long, extending past the hand. Instead of a doublet, women wear a kirtle (which conists of a close-fitting bodice ending just beneath the bust, an open skirt that sweeps back with a hem at mid-thigh to mid-calf). The kirtle is typically made of suede, lambskin, or doeskin when it is leather. Their footwear is similar to the mens', though they also wear slippers.

Gnomes prefer to adorn with jewelry rather than embroidery, and will sew precious stones into their clothes. There is some embroidery, typically around the neck, shoulders, and wrists, that depict natural elements such as vines, flowers, and other living things. The jewerly is exquisite and detailed, with advanced techniques such as filligree used to highlight the precious stones. Rare gems are typically reserved for the upper classes, but many gnomes use semiprecious stones such as cabochon, set into silver, gold, copper, and leather.

Gnomes are fastidious about their grooming. Males and females both wear their hair long, with women wearing it looser. Male gnomes in Races of Stone are said to either shave their faces, or have a carefully-trimmed beard


The gnomish language is a variant of dwarvish, and is an exacting tongue that is difficult to master, but capable of expressing fine and complex points quite well, and with great specificity. Academic circles have adopted gnomish as the lingua franca due in part to its keen precision. Gnome words focus on the sounds i, k, r, s, and v. Real-world languages to look at for inspiration include hebrew and latin, with a veneer of nursery-rhyme silliness and repetition.


  • "Ni te pharkalu, quo lun verra lu.": "If you see it, it's not the right it." A phrase used to remind gnomes that first appearances can often be deceiving, and to look deeper for the truth.
  • "Melchaen baruk bar kolen." "Lure the badger from her burrow." A phrase used to describe taking someone out of their comfort zone.
  • "Vel Karsh!": "Ruin them!", a gnomish battlecry that envision people as destructable objects.
  • "Ti feeralu!": "I tricked you!", used to gloat after a successful prank or deception.
  • "Shael vuk": "Empty box," a gnomish insult used to describe someone who is a frustrating waste of time.

Gnomish MythsEdit

The creation of gnomes as presented here is not a voluntary act of any god or immortal. Gnomes simply emerge from the shadowy dark places of the world, fully formed, furtively emerging into the moonlight of this early world.

Their god is identified as Garl Glittergold, a deity of gold and diamonds and wealth, who weilds a magical silver battleaxe named Arundina the Justifier to defend his people. Their additional gods include Baervan Wildwanderer (a god of wilderness and forests), Calladuran Smoothhands (a god of caves and stone), Flanandal Steelskin (a god of metallurgy and mining), and Segojan Earthcaller (a god of life who taught the gnomes how to befriend animals).

Garl is often called The Trickster, and is a god of protection and creation. He is a god of light as well.

There is also a spirit of darkness and death in the gnomish pantheon, the blind mole-god Urdlen, called the Glutton, said to have steel claws. Urdlen is a god of destruction, greed, and tragedy. Gnomes understand evil to be a constant with the world, something to be recognized and known, not denied. One evil that they know is the kobolds, and the god of the kobolds, Kurtulmak, was tricked by Garl, and trapped in a cave-in.

The gnomes also know of a god they call Gelf, said to be Garl's Shadow, who is a god of night, darkness, and illusion. Like Urdlen, Gelf is considered a natural and essential part of the world, but the brothers are in constant struggle with each other.

Other gods include Rill Cleverthrush (the god of gemcutters) and Sheyanna Flaxenstrand (goddess of beauty and passion).

The gnomes credit themselves with the invention of fire. They tell a story about Verpoolisch Popplepip, who stole fire from the gods by sneaking away with a spark from the divine forge (and replacing it with an illusion). The gnomes then shared this beautiful discovery with others. Fires are the center-pieces of family burrows in gnomish society.

Gnomes also tell a tale of a giant-killer named Jack (or, Jackobean Tillsplitter Philonius Cashion Firehart Musskit), whose famous sharp, sharp knife has killed many giants. His is an edifying tale told to gnomish youths, as his flaw was that he was incredibly lazy, until he found the one thing he was good at -- killing giants.


Gnomes aren't prone to deep, devoted worship -- some even doubt that Garl has a literal existence, viewing him more as a metaphor for the gnomish id. Worship of Garl is popular, and any mid-sized gnomish village will have at least one small shrine to him (cities will have full-fledged temples). Clerics serve as councilors, mediators, and judges in gnome society, and only rarely as practicioners of divine rituals -- gnomes only visit their shrines on great holidays.


Gnomes have a wealth of holidays. An average gnome community has about 12-15 big celebrations each year, for things like harvests, equinoxes, solstices, and anniverseries (including anniverseries of unusual weather). These festivals often last for two days apiece, with one day devoted to preparation and the other to revelry. Gnomes seem to have an innate "holiday clock," and seem to know when a good celebration is in order. Major festivals are sometimes years apart. Gnomes on holiday sing, dance, carouse, measure noses, and compete in eating, drinking, and snoring contests. Illusion displays are also a common element, and many are for pure entertainment and storytelling. Of course, it takes a lot of work to replenish the community coffers after these grand celebrations.

Lunar Eclipse: Gnomes celebrate the Lunar Eclipse once a century for a full month.

Day of Silence: During this day, gnomes reflect on their losses and their struggles, without speaking, laughing, or playing any jokes. The taboo against speaking includes not casting spells with verbal components. If a gnome breaks that taboo, they take a -1 penalty on attack rolls, checks, and saves for three days.

The Dance of Lights: A weeklong celebration in the heart of spring, this time is filled with music, dancing, practical jokes, and grand illusions. There are illusion competitons in many communities. During this celebration, gnomes add +1 to the DCs for all saving throws against illusions they create (this stacks with their normal +1 bonus).

Tumanor: A feast of giving and generosity named for a legendary gnomish bard. Gnomes give a gift of great value to someone they respect, and most make a point ot get smaller gifts for other people close to them, to show respect and appreciation for their presence in the gnome's life. The goodwill in the community during this time grants gnomes a +1 morale bonus on Diplomacy checks.


Typical gnomish communities include places like Granitehome and Kibosh.

Gnome communities typically consist of about a dozen clans (though smaller communities may be single-clan dwellings) totalling about 400-500 gnomes -- the level that the surrounding wilderness can easily sustain, and the size that can be easily hidden. They prefer to have some arable land, for a small community garden and a flock of sheep or goats. Many are located next to bodies of water, but gnomes are not averse to digging wells. Only a few gnome cities exist, and those were founded in ancient times, typically by a merchant lord to support their trade.

The animal friends that live in gnomish communities (typically, badgers, weasels, and wolverines, as well as giant versions of those creatures) are allies, not domesticated pets. They ally with the gnomes for reliable food and shelter, and in turn help out their hosts in defense of the lair and the protection of the gnomes who live there.

Gnome communities can reflect the gnomish philosophy on truth and illusion as well (see below), with a dichotomy between the pastoral rural countryside and the great gnomish merchant-cities. Of course, which one represents a "truth" and which one is simply the "illusion" is a matter of debate and personal opinion.

Urban gnome communities are distinguished by the presence of wealthy merchant lords, gnomes who seek to perfect the craft of business. The merchant lords are not overly greedy, but tend to achieve great wealth regardless of their charity and patronage.

Gnome society is governed by councils, typically of people without grand titles (the highest-rank gnomes are considered little more than mayors, burgormasters, and the like). Full-time politicians are unknown in gnomish society, with council members primarily being members of the community. A single council member might be invested with the ability to call for town defense, or to break ties, should the need arise.

A gnome settlement will often include two or three maesteries (for arts and teaching), a central ampitheater, and a guildhall for the merchant lords.

Social ClassEdit

The common gnome people are miners, hunters, and craftspeople. Merchants are higher up on the economic ladder, and at the top, the merchant lords are considered akin to gnomish nobility. Merchant lords hold much of the wealth of a gnomish society, and have many contacts with outside groups. They are the targets of gossip, and their events are elite affairs. Idle rich among the gnomes invest a lot of time and effort into novel uses of illusion magic -- costume balls where the costumes are illusory, illusion duels of ever-more-fantastical phantasmal beings straining the believability of an image, and even groups of gnomes playing pranks on nearby cities while cloaked in illusions.

Less successful gnomes are shopkeepers, who live above their own establishments. Middle-class gnomes can afford to send their children to schools (often those funded by merchant lords). In urban areas, middle-class gnomes might be teachers or clerks. There can be some tension between the classes in the cities, as middle-class gnomes do seem enamored of the wealth of the merchant lords. Farmers, shepherds and minor officials make up the middle classes in the rural lands, and are on the whole more content with their lives, rarely wanting for much.

There are those in gnomish society who live outside of the typical bounds of the coin, and those are typically artists and rebels. To make a living as an artist is a difficult challenge, but it is widely respected and seen as a noble calling. Artists subsist on patronage, teaching, and the occasional sale of their creations. Artists are taught by gnomish experts called maesters, whose job it is to nurture the natural talents of any potential artists, and to give every gnome a foundational appreciation for art. Gnome apprentices, wearing plain robes, are constantly tested by these maesters, and those who fail are told to go home and find another career. Those who succeed and become journeygnomes become closer to their teachers. They wear smocks with a decoration on their left breast signifying their progress. Journeygnomes who perform their duties well and who can create original works of quality are promoted to lesser maesters, and wear a close-fitting cap as an icon of that life. Lesser maesters typically leave their homeland and start their own artistic career abroad.

Rebellion among the gnomes is sometimes seen as an avenue to wisdom and enlightenment. The rebels critique gnomish culture by living outside of it and forcing it, over long periods of time, to change in response to new events, developments, and philosophies.

Family LifeEdit

Gnomish families are small, typically with less than three children. Births are rare, with one every five to ten years at most, making each child highly valued. At the age of 20, gnomish children are sent to school to begin their education, often in nearby towns to cement relationships with nearby villages. Gnomes reach maturity at 45, and it is not uncommon for a gnome to see 500 years of life before old age takes them.

Love is considered an aspect of truth, so gnomes will marry for love, often after a long and patient courtship. Not every gnome gets married, and there is no particular pressure to be married in gnomish society (a sage "married to her work" is not uncommon). When they occur, marriages are described as private affairs, simply attended by the immediate families of the newlyweds. They are also described as lavish, week-long celebrations, featuring plays and concerts, each morning representing a quality of a good spouse (healer, friend, lover, caretaker, beloved, partner, and opponent).

When a gnome dies, it is a somnber affair. A days-long funeral occurs in the town, with those close to the deceased remembering their accomplishments and telling stories about their cleverness. Dead gnomes are cremated, and the container of ashes is kept by the family, or burried beyond the bounds of the town. The bereaved may spend years in mourning (or just a few months), processing the loss via their art and craft. After the mourning is over, the bereaved are encouraged to make a new life for themselves, including taking up new lovers. If the mourning period lasts more than 5 years, it is seen by the gnomes as a possible sign of mental illness, causing friends and family to intervene.


  • 20% of gnomish civilizations have less than 80 citizens. (They are Thorps)
  • Another 20% of gnomish civilizations have less than 400 citizens. (They are Hamlets)
  • A further 20% of gnomish civilizations have less than 900 citizens. (They are Villages)
  • Another 20% of gnomish civilizations have less than 2,000 citizens. (They are Small Towns)
  • Only 15% of gnomish civilizations have 2,000-5,000 citizens  (they are Large Towns)
  • Only 5% of gnomish civilizations have 5,000-12,000 citizens (they are Small Cities)


In most gnomish communities, nonadults (children and elderly) range from 25% to 30% of the population.


For the purposes of jewelry, artwork, scrolls, potions, alchemical items, or masterwork gadgets, the GP limit of a gnomish settlement is five times the GP limit of a standard settlement of its size.

Large Cities and MetropoliEdit

Gnomes don't live in cities above about 12,000 people under normal circumstances (and even cities that size are vanishingly rare). Gnomish large cities and gnomish metropoli should only be placed specifically, and never randomly generated.

Racial MixEdit

In Isolated communities (about 60% of gnomish communities), the population is 98% gnome, 1% dwarf, and 1% other races.

In Mixed communities (about 25% of gnomish communities), the population is 85% gnome, 5% each dwarf and human, 3% elf, and 2% other races.

In Integrated communities (about 15% of gnomish communities), the population is 45% gnome, 20% dwarf, 18% human, 15% elf, and 2% other races.

Power Center AlignmentEdit

35% of gnomish communities have neutral good leaders, 15% have lawful good leaders  10% have lawful neutral leaders, another 10% is true neutral, another 10% is chaotic good. 5% have lawful evil leaders, another 5% have neutral evil leaders, another 5% have chaotic neutral leaders, and the remaining 5% of leaders is chaotic evil.


Elite Guerilla Company (level 8-9): 1d10+10 gnome warriors, 2 gnome sergeants, 1 gnome lieutenant

Guerilla Company (level 1-2): 1d3+1 gnome warriors

Magical Strike Team (level 14): 3 gnome sergeants, 1 divine prankster, 1 gnome trickster, 1 shadowcraft mage

Scouting Company (level 6): 1d4+1 gnome scouts, 1 gnome leiutenant

Temple Wardens (level 7): 1d3+1 gnome warriors, 1 gnome guardian

Traveling Minstrel Group (level 10): 1d3+1 gnome warriors, 1 gnome scout, 1 gnome storyteller.


Gnomes are creatures of joy, delighting in laughter and trickery. They prefer to laugh together, rather than war with each other. Forgiveness comes easy to gnomes, and they have little patience for grudges. Still, gnomes know the value of balance, and work as hard as they play in creating objects of exceptional beauty and quality.

The levity and joy with which they approach life can lead some of other races to treat them as childlike or naive, but the gnomes see this as an ignorance -- novelty is the spice of a long gnomish life.

While very accepting and good-natured, there are a few things that push a gnome's buttons pretty easily. Laziness, or shirking one's duty, can be cause for expulsion in chronic cases. While gnomes are able drinkers, getting drunk and causing havoc is also very frowned upon -- gnomes have no pity for the hung-over. Gnomes bet small amounts on many kinds of contests, but it is understood that wagers are friendly, and not a way to make a living, so it is limited to small amounts.

Gnomes are quite in touch with their emotions, reserving little. Gnomes laugh and grieve both openly and loudly. They seem to observe a continuum between the emoitions as well, and are glad when sadness turns to joy (often proclaiming it cause for celebration). Their grief typically passes quickly, and funerals observances are known to turn from wailing to joking in a matter of hours. Gnomes are open in displays of affection and love, hugging and cuddling often, and without self-consciousness.

Gnomes are respectful of tradition, but not bound by it. The tradition of gnomes is one of truth-seeking, rebellion, innovation, and artistry, so often the most traditional thing a gnome can do is to cleverly defy the edicts of tradition.

Big NosesEdit

Big noses are considered a mark of prestige among the gnomes, and are involved in many of their contests and rivalries. Gnomish noses stick out more than 5 inches from their face in most instances. It is considered a fairly grave insult to belittle another gnome's nose -- it is seen as needlesly cruel and vindictive.


Gnomes have a fondness for gemstones, which are precious to gnomes for more than just their monetary value -- holding and stroking a gem seems to be reassuring on some level. Most gnomes will have a precious stone they carry around with them, and communities will have some particularly splendid examples, each with their own story and legend. Gnomish spellcasters employ gems in much of what they do.

Illusions & MagicEdit

Illusions are a staple part of gnomish life, used in every-day actions, from telling stories and whispering messages to pulling pranks and even simply to make life a little easier. This manifests strangely with their pursuit of the concept of truth (see below) -- the gnomes consider themselves part of this illusory world, and claim it honestly, showcasing their skill with light and magic from a very early age, and in many of their festivals. Gnomes consider illusion a craft not unlike metallurgy or carpentry, as a thing to be perfected.

Magic in general is considered similar to illusion, coming ultimately from the same source, and is not held in especially high regard (likely due to the gnomes' intense familiarity with it). This may be a reflection on the gnomish view of truth and illusion, with gnomes regarding magic as part of the latter world. Magic turned to the purpose of a true craft is another matter entirely -- illusion magic used to, say, educate and entertain, is a different matter than adventuring and pure magical research.


The gnomish propensity to prank and joke is an expression of friendship and comraderie -- hurting the target of  your jokes is not the point, but rather to amuse them and get them to look a little foolish (gnomes are not creatures of great pride). Jokes often take up the role that fights and violence would serve in other societies -- a clever joke or booby-trap is often enough to restore a rivalry to friendly terms. Gnomes have extended this to their military excercises as well. Making an enemy look foolish can be more important than simple victory.


The inventiveness of gnomes is part of their exploratory mindset. Rather than being focused on an end result, gnomes invent from a love of the creative process, of finding out how things may fit together. Useful end products are merely a fortunate byproduct.


The exploration of the gnomes is, for many, given a particular goal: the discovery of truth. Gnomish philosophy holds truth to be something to be discovered and discerned from the general world of lies and illusions. To a gnome, the world of the senses is the surface we see, and the true nature of reality lurks just behind this illusory facade. The seeking of Truth (and how we know it when we see it) has inspired many gnomes to seek adventure in far-flung corners of the world.


Communities of gnomes will trade their elbaorate gemwork for raw goods, which they further refine and then sell again. Gnomes without salt readily available go to great lengths to acquire it, and gnomes will barter for much of their food, fabric, and raw, industrial metal. Gnomish merchants are not known to take great loads, either, and will pay well for hardy laborers to cart around their goods. Trade is typically conducted via merchant lords.

Gnomes are clever mathematicians and accountants, some becoming quite wealthy on currency exchange alone. Gnomes make excellent merchants. The greatest among them carry goods for multiple types of people, and tend to leave their customers rather pleased at a good deal earned (though its rarely as good a deal as the gnome is getting).

Gnome WarfareEdit

Reluctant to fight, gnomes prefer to do so on their own terms when they must. They don't outfit standing armies, nor do they have a central authority able to call one up should they see a need. Their communities are rarely guarded by more than a handful of militia members. They choose to avoid combat, even when the cause seems just, and reserve their military for defensive purposes. The most well-trained gnome warriors are likely guards of merchant caravans. Gnomish culture views warfare and death as nothing more than a tremendous waste, a thing of destruction where there can be no glory, as that only comes from creation.

When they are forced to fight, they prefer rough terrain (broken up by rocks or trees) where their size can make it easier to stay upright or to find cover. Gnomish cities use small tunnels as choke points as well, and they employ camouflage, diversion, and disguise (especially of the illusory variety) to distract and exhaust their enemies. Illusions are also useful in battle for concealing dangerous terrain or in creating phantasmal enemies to mislead attacks. In one famous case, the gnomes even created a false image of the sun, concealing its actual location and causing an army to march miles off course.

The first wave of attack from a gnomish brigade is typically archers, unleashing a storm of small arrows and crossbow bolts. They dance into the ranks of the enemy when in melee, hiding amongst larger creatures and using the bodies as cover. They are adept at sabotage, such as cutting saddle-straps, before a combat begins. Most gnomes carry a ranged weapon, and a hammer, spear, or short sword. They also are equipped with a dagger as a last line of defense.

Gnomes don't hesitate to flee when necessary, and their lack of hubris often leads to them staying alive a bit longer than others. Gnomes would rather scatter and regroup than go out in a blaze of pointless glory.

Gnome CraftsEdit

As a general rule, gnomes find it hard to produce raw material, but are excellent at turning it into something delightful. Gnomes cover every inch of their crafts in decorative flourishes and non-utilitiarian flair. Gnomes consider their crafting part of their search for truth, revealing the world behind the veneer. They speak of drawing images out of the substances with which they work -- images that were there all along, but hidden.


Gnomes are not especially known for their weaving. Still, as with any craft, a gnome who desires an artistic flair can produce beautiful and intricate embroidery.


Gnomes are able masons, and fill their homes with intricate stonework patterns and scenes of natural beauty.


Carpentry comes easy to gnomes as well, and weaving and embroidery produced by them is often quite elaborate.


Sugar is unknown in the gnome diet, and they tend to avoid sweets, spices, and sauces when abroad. They do delight in salt, and know a fair bit about preserving meats. The flavor of their best meals is often the flavor of the wild game and forage they simply let shine through. They don't use yeast to make brews, but in areas with apples and cherries, they are known to make passable (though astringent) cordials.

Gnomes are not great farmers, but they are able hunters, and they gather nuts, fruits, grubs, and wild greens. Most gnomish farming is grain, which they use to make bread and ale.


Gnomes are energetic musicians, having invented a range of complex and boisterous instruments, though their reedy voices don't always make the most pleasant vocal noises (gnomes seem to mistake volume for quality).


Gnomish alchemists are quite skilled, with sensitive noses able to distinguish between subtle subtances.

Other RacesEdit

Gnomes enjoy travel, and engage their curiosity not only among other gnomes, but also among the humans and demihuman cities. Many seek to satisfy their curiosity about what lays beyond their sight, and some are even pursuing legends of a "perfect gem" that they may have heard of (or simply convinced themselves of). Most gnomes return to their hometown after some time spent abroad, equipped with experience and tales to enrich the clan. Gnomes are fairly welcoming to outsiders who manage to earn gnomish friendship, but larger creatures find the cities claustrophobic and awkward. Those gnome-friends can inspire future generations of gnomes to leave the warren and explore the wide world beyond, either to see the sites told of in stories, or in response to some trouble or problem that the gnome-friend might be having.

Dwarves are considered close kindred to the gnomes, though a bit overly serious, and the dwarves return the favor, viewing the gnomes as slightly foolish cousins.

Gnomes consider the Elves a bit too invested in the "unreality" of magic, but both races love art and nature, and have a similar vein of fey magic running through them.

The Goliaths are admired for their simplicity and wisdom, and the gnomes often trade with the goliaths for their furs, meats, and leathers.

Halflings are consdiered to be undisciplined and lazy by most gnomes, which frustrates them to no end.

Half-Elves are respected for their place as between the elves and the humans. The gnomes see this as a unique vantage point from which to see both more clearly...though half-elves who have always felt isolated by that may see this as cold comfort.

Half-Orcs are viewed similarly to half-elves, and gnomes are one of the few races to treat them as individuals rather than as unfortunates or monstrosities.

Gnomes appreciate the inventive spirit of Humans, but find them short-sighted and often unreliable. They don't take the long view that gnomes have the luxury of taking.

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