Gnomes, or the Forgotten Folk as they are sometimes known, are small fey-like humanoids known for their eccentric sense of humor, inquisitiveness and engineering prowess. Having had few overt influences on the world’s history but many small and unseen ones, gnomes are often overlooked by the powers that be despite their craftiness and affinity for illusion magic.

Gnomes are very small compared to most other races and, with an average height ranging between 3’4" and 3’8" and a comparable weight range of 50 to 75 lbs gnomes are smaller even than halflings. However, while halflings are commonly said to resemble short humans, gnomes are more comparable with elves, with whom they share pointed ears and high cheekbones, or even dwarves, who they are compared to due to their tendency to grow beards and live underground. Many gnomes have a more feral appearance than either, however, with hair that often sprouts from their heads in odd directions.

The skin of gnomes runs in hue from reddish tans to earthy browns or even shades of gray, with exact hue somewhat dependent upon the ethnic origin of a gnome. Similarly, gnomish hair varies wildly in color from blond and brown to more exotic colors like white, orange, or even green. Gnomish eyes are often glittering black or blue although more natural eye colors are also known to the race.

Gnomes are very long-lived, often living as long as elves, which means living over three centuries is not uncommonly rare and five centuries is not unheard of. Generally, gnome are considered to reach maturity at forty years of age. However, unlike elves, gnomes show a greater degree of aging as they grow older and once a gnome has passed his or her first century, their hair begins to gray, if it was not already white, and their skin begins to wrinkle as in humans or dwarves. However, even the oldest gnome retains a vitality that would be extraordinarily unusual amongst many of the younger races.

Rock Gnomes: Rock gnomes are a capricious, childlike race very much unlike their cousins, the svirfneblin or deep gnomes and the forest gnomes. When most people think of gnomes, they are thinking of the rock gnome. Rock gnomes embody the characteristics of their creator and patron deity, Garl Glittergold, choosing to spend their long lives by filling each day with as much fun and enjoyment as possible.

Rock gnomes are especially easy going with dwarves and halflings, especially those who appreciate a good joke. They are typically more cautious and subdued around the Big Folk (humans, elves and the other medium size humanoids), taking a considerably longer time (a day longer, perhaps) to consider them a friend and ally. They consider all forms of goblinkin to be extremely untrustworthy and give them a very wide berth if possible.

Rock gnomes roam the lands of Faerûn far and wide, using their impressive natural intelligence as inventors, mages, and other positions which require mechanical aptitude or just sheer knowledge of their surroundings. Rock gnomes who choose to study the paths of arcane magic typically choose the school of illusion, which they often use to enhance storytelling or defending their small villages from goblinoid attack. Rock gnomes are also found commonly in the Western Heartlands, the Dalelands, and the woodlands between the Great Dale and Thesk.

Rock gnome

Forest Gnomes: Forest gnomes are among the least commonly seen gnomes on Toril, far shier than even their deep gnome cousins. Small and reclusive, forest gnomes are so unknown to most non-gnomes that they have repeatedly been “discovered” by wandering outsiders who happen into their villages. Timid to an extreme, forest gnomes almost never leave their hidden homes.

Forest gnomes are painfully shy creatures who neither feel the need nor want to interact with other races. For the most part forest gnomes would simply like to be ignored as they have been for millennia. Unlike deep gnomes this comes less out of a general mistrust of outsiders and more out of an extreme sense of privacy and affinity for the natural world, combined with a general ambivalence about things that are outside of their experience. Among their own kind, deep gnomes are quite friendly, if not particularly lively.

Forest gnomes are a rare sight, but they are not particularly uncommon. In addition to inhabiting their ancestral homes in the Feywild, forest gnomes can be found in Aglarond and the Great Dale. Wherever they live, forest gnomes are well-hidden and so are often unnoticed, sometimes for centuries, by their neighbors.

Forest gnome

Deep Gnomes: Deep gnomes, called svirfneblin in their own language, are a gnome subrace that live in the Underdark. While their surface cousins are known for their boundless optimism and cheerful mischief, the svirfneblin are serious and suspicious creatures. They survive in the Underdark by maintaining wariness of others and working hard to keep their underground society secret.

Deep gnomes are wiry and lean with a body as hard as a slab of rock. Males are completely bald and beardless, while the females sport hair. Ranging from 3’ to 3’6" in height and weighing between 40 and 45 lbs, the deep gnomes are small enough to give them a size advantage when battling larger opponents. Deep gnome complexions are sometimes described as “gnarled” and, like drow and duergar, are commonly dark in hue, with most deep gnomes demonstrating brown or gray skin, with dark gray eyes, as well as gray hair if female. Deep gnomes do not live quite as long as their kin, with a life expectancy just under two centuries. Due to this and a number of cultural affectations, deep gnome children are considered adults at roughly twenty years of age.

Deep gnome

Blood Gnomes: Blood gnomes are rare creatures indeed, with the blood of vile redcap fey in their veins. They are not a true subrace, like rock gnomes or shadow gnomes, but can pop up at any time among any type of gnome. Blood gnomes are often – but not always – evil creatures and their redcap blood is often hard for them to keep in check.

Blood gnomes look about the same size as other gnomes, standing a few inches taller than 3 feet, on average. They have pale skin, red eyes, and bone white hair with a shock of blood red at the crown. They are otherwise similar to other gnomes.

Shadow Gnomes: Shadow gnomes are an offshoot of gnomes whose ancient progenitors settled upon the Shadow Plane for a time before making their way to the Material Plane. They are generally darker of mind and body than other gnomes, and still retain a strong connection to the Shadow Plane.

Shadow gnomes are about the same size as other gnomes, at just over 3 feet tall on average. Most shadow gnomes have skin the color of dark basalt and charcoal colored eyes. A few of the race have ash gray skin and cobalt blue eyes. All have jet black hair. Their body types and facial features are otherwise similar to other gnomes.

(SOURCE – The Forgotten Realms Wiki; Player’s Options: Gnomes)

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Daggerford and the North RobertThomson