Gnomes

Desert Gnome Gnomes were created by Shylar, along with the elves, to tend her gardens in Henipur and their bond with the elves has remained, with many gnomes still following elven deities. Like the elves, they came to Arrasia to help defend it from the evil that had consumed it, but soon found themselves overwhelmed and caught in a fight for their own survival. Fleeing from the war-savaged lands, they sought out homes for themselves away from the communities of men, dwarves and the evil humanoid races, where possible preferring to dwell in the hills, woods and forests. All too often, however, they found their communities under attack and overrun, forcing them onto a new journey. Over time, though some settlements established themselves and remain to this day, most gnomes became wanderers, journeying in small troupes from one place to another. Their homes became the very wagons in which they travelled and they made their livings travelling through the communities of humans and using their skills to repair all manner of items and make new ones. However, wandering gnomes have also established a reputation for being thieves and con-artists, and though their skills are sort after, they are not over liked and often there is outright hostility towards them.

Gnomes are small in stature, standing around 21/2 to 3 feet in height and tend to weigh 30 or 40 pounds. Their skin color is varied, from dark tan or woody brown in the south to pale in the north. Their hair also ranges from dark to fair, but their eyes are always intense and a bright shade of green. Males prefer short, trimmed beards and long hair, while females like to braid theirs. Gnomes wear whatever clothes are necessary for their environment, though the colours tend to be natural and earthy and which they decorate with small trinkets or pieces of jewellery, usually of their own making. Gnomes live for many years, with some of the oldest being known to reach 350 years. More commonly, however, they tend on average to live around 200 years.

Gnomes have their own shared language, which is rarely spoken by non-gnomes. They will also know the languages, even if only a smattering, of those areas where they frequently travel to or through.

Gnomish Homelands
Although some gnome settlements can be found amongst the hills and woodlands of Arrasia, the vast majority live a nomadic life in small troupes, travelling the land in their wagons and going where the wind takes them. Gnomes are skilled at making and repairing things and often create marvellous and madcap contraptions, often as dangerous as they are wondrous. They put these skills to good use to turn a quick profit wherever they go, looking for paid work repairing and making items as well as inventing new items whenever they can. Gnomes are also known to be light-fingered and easy with things they covet and will sometimes take that which is not theirs, giving the gnomes a bad reputation throughout Arrasia and ensuring that not only are they not always welcome, but also that they are universally despised, especially amongst humans. Indeed, they often find themselves being chased away and forced to move on.

Some Gnomes have also found homes for themselves in the hills and forests of Arrasia, where they live a very different life from their wandering brothers and sisters. These gnomish communities are nearly always built around trade, whether trading their own goods or brokering trades between others. Their particular niche is acting as the middle men between dwarves and elves, buying from one and selling to the other - at a large mark-up of course! Their communities, although few in number, tend to be large and chaotic. Being small and not the most capable warriors, gnomes prefer to pay others to do their fighting for them and are happy to hire whoever best suits the job. They are not fools, however, and avoid using those who might turn against them. The largest of these Gnomish communities are Rathanak, Daccathan and Unsyr, all large and well-defended towns. Rathanak is by far the largest, with a population of several thousand, and is considered the spiritual home of all gnomes. Many believe it is their duty to travel to Rathanak at least once during their life time.

Gnomes can be found all over Arrasia, trading and working with whoever requires their services. Desert gnomes, in particular, have found a niche for themselves and their communities have become an important part of the desert ecology. Although some desert gnome communities can be found around the lush and natural water springs that dot the baked desert lands, most are hot and dusty affairs built around deep gnome-made water holes. All desert gnome communities are small and well-defended, though always open to those that would trade with them. This is especially true of the desert elves that traverse the baking sands, with who they have forged good relations. The gnomes tend to live however they can - burrows in the hard valley sides or tents if there is nothing but sand.

Jungle gnomes are found in the tropical south, where they tend to build their communities on the rivers, with boats tied together to form a writhing bridge from one bank to the other, interspersed with intricate channels and canals. They rarely stay in the same place for too long, as they migrate up and down the rivers as it suits their needs and mood. They prefer to remain within the heart of the forest, well away from its edges, and are found throughout the hot, tropical forests of Femmen Thirl, Femmen Verraba and even The Dead Jungle. They have excellent relations with the jungle elves, who are their main trading partners and who they consider their allies.

Arctic gnomes live in the frozen north, usually around the base of The White Mountains where they live amongst the rocky valleys and slopes, their communities hidden away and difficult to find. Arctic gnomes are extremely industrious and often wander far from home, in small bands, to hawk their goods or sell their skills or, more usually, both. Unlike their southern wandering cousins, they tend to be welcome visitors amongst the settlements of The Savage Coast and The Badlands and they maintain good relations (and trade) with the arctic dwarves.

Gnomish Politics and Society
Gnome societies vary greatly, with wandering gnomes living entirely different lives to those settled in towns and desert gnomes being nothing like jungle gnomes. However, one things that unites them all is that their societies are usually close knit, with generations of the same family often living and working together in a single burrow, wagon, tent, or wherever they live, where the fit and healthy look after the material needs of the household and the weak and frail the spiritual needs. The eldest members of the community are held in great respect and their knowledge and wisdom is always sought from the younger gnomes - both as a mark of respect and as a matter of practicality.

For wandering gnomes, the head of the troupe - called the Elder - is usually the wisest and most respected from amongst them. The position is entirely informal and achieved through osmosis - that is, through the unconscious shared will of the community. In settlements, gnome adults chose their leader, called a Mother or Father, who serves for a set period, usually of 25 years, before either being re-elected or the community chooses someone new to govern them. The Mother or Father is advised by the Wise Council, which is any number of gnomes chosen (and elected) by the community - nearly always the older, respected members of the community. They serve for (usually) a 10-year period, before being re-elected, and their role is to help the Mother or Father with her or his duties and advise as they see fit.

Jungle and desert gnomes use whatever political system works best for that community. For some, this is the eldest or wisest amongst them, while others follow a more rigid political structure akin to those who dwell in gnomish towns, with elected leaders or councils. Often enough, however, there is no particular political structure and they either choose the most capable amongst them or a leader naturally emerges who the majority are willing to follow.

Gnomes everywhere are experts in designing and making things, and spend much of their time doing just that. They are excellent problem solvers and tend toward creative thinking and thinking outside the box. However, not everything works as planned, and experiments and devices have a habit of going badly wrong, occasionally causing explosions and mayhem. Those that are completed are used by the gnomes to trade with, and the gnomes themselves are often in high demand due to their skills.


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