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Svirfneblin have the ability to listen to earth and stone (but not to speak to it, as do the pech). Additionally, the deep gnomes have a very basic form of telepathy with one another, allowing them to exchange general ideas (for example, alerting others to danger).
Svirfneblin live underground, usually in the Underdark.
Typical physical characteristics
Svirfneblin closely resemble their surface-dwelling brethren, save for their paler complexions and the fact that they have little or no hair.
Svirfneblin are usually of neutral alignment.
Contrary to many other racial varieties who were forced to retreat to the Underdark due to some violent conflict in the past (like the drow elves), the deep gnomes were led underground peacefully by their patron god, Callarduran Smoothhands. Most svirfneblin venerate the aforementioned deity primarily, and also the patron deity of all gnomes, Garl Glittergold.
Svirfneblin in the Forgotten Realms
In the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, the svirfneblin of the Underdark used to have a stronghold in the Northdark area, a city called Blingdenstone, but were forced to flee out of fear and good sense when their worst enemies, the drow (of Menzoberranzan) marched upon the Dwarven colony of Mithral Hall (however, only a small force actually entered Blingdenstone, and then left after discovering it was uninhabited). A large force then marched after the Drow, determined to help the Dwarves defeat their long hated enemies. After a massive battle and many Svirfneblin deaths, the city was reclaimed after the drow march was defeated by Clan Battlehammer and their allies, and a treaty was enacted between Battlehammer and Deep gnomes that would stand for millennia.
The name svirfneblin originates in Scandinavian folklore . Presumbably, the element -neblin derives from Old Norse niflinn 'the mist' from nifl 'mist', and is cognate with the German element nibl- in Niblungen literally 'the children of the mist'.
- Conners, William, et al. Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (TSR, 1989).
- Oppen, Eric. "The Folk of the Underworld." Dragon #131 (TSR, 1988).
- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1994).
- Turnbull, Don, ed. Fiend Folio (TSR, 1981).
- Salvatore, R.A, "Homeland" & "Exile" of the Dark Elf Trilogy