Gnomes & The Homestead Vale
Only three hundred years ago a dwarf miner called Gnom Hardgren Kibbutz Lorden Azhik Azhik was following the dwindling vein of silver that his family had pursued for the previous decade. Gnom’s family had fallen on hard times and one by one relatives had left their little castle on the south eastern edge of the World Spine to return to more established holds. The castle was now home to only Gnom, his wife and their eight children; a far cry from the time when the castle rang with the bawdy songs of two hundred dwarf silver miners. Gnom knew that the silver he was counting on to be the dowry of his five daughters would soon be expended and he would be officially poor – for a dwarf such a fate is worse than being beardless. But Gnom was driven to pursue the silver to its end, which happened unexpectedly when he crashed through the face of his own tunnel… into somebody else’s.
Someone, so it seemed to Gnom, had been poaching his silver. Silver that under dwarven law was his, since he had an established claim registered with the Lord Minemaster General’s office in Greathold. The dwarf was furious! He took up his pick and his lantern, dusted himself off and crawled along this much smaller tunnel with murder in mind. When he reached the end he discovered, to his amazement, not the entrance to a dwarf keep, but that he had stumbled into a long valley protected from the outside world by sheer cliffs topped with snow. It was dusk, and all along the valley were little houses and little castles with towers all illuminated from within. Gnom had discovered the Homestead Vale, which had been sheltered from the outside world since the elder age and protected from scrying by the Mortal God Hrol, who was the smallest of the fragments released when the Black God of the elves was destroyed.
Gnom, in typical dwarf claim-staking arrogance, named the creatures he discovered living in the Homestead Vale after himself and the race of gnomes was revealed to the world. Tragically, whatever money making plans Gnom had for the Gnomes never came to fruition as he was killed only a month later in a cave-in. The gnomes erected a rather badly made statue of him at the edge of the tunnel he had used to access their realm and then promptly forgot about him.
Hrol had created the gnomes in his own image; he was small and wizened with an overlarge nose, a bald head that would gleam when polished and tufts of white hair that sprang from his ears. While elves appear perpetually young, gnomes appear to be old from birth. But the greatest influence Hrol had on his people was not in appearance, but in personality: Hrol is the god of curiosity. Since they realised that there was a world beyond the Homestead Vale, gnomes have been consumed with curiosity; desperate to seek out every experience the world has to offer and despite their quirky appearance and naďve world view they have displayed an adaptability that no other race can claim. Gnomes are filled with a child-like wonder combined with an inventive knowledge that seems intrinsic to them and an attention span which is wavering at best. While everything fascinates gnomes, nothing fascinates them for very long. For this reason most gnomes are multi-classed to avoid them becoming bored.
Gnomes are typically between 2 and 3 feet tall – shorter even than the most squat of dwarves. It is almost impossible for other races, even those that work closely with gnomes, to determine their age, while gnomes find it no more difficult than humans do to determine their relative ages. Although wrinkled and aged in appearance, gnomes are strong, hardy and dextrous and can survive easily past 500 years old.
The Homestead Vale is an idyllic place for gnomes. Surrounded by insurmountable sharp and frozen peaks the vale is protected from both the ravages of monsters and the worst of any bad weather. There are only 10,000 gnomes living in the vale now, while a century ago there were 100,000; the race of gnomes has spread across the world and as Fizbot Thurplethwaite, a multi-classed thief / paladin / necromancer who acts as real estate agent, says, “there’s never been a better time to buy property in the Vale.” Fizbot has so far failed to attract foreign buyers to the Vale – something to do with all the ceilings being only 4 feet above the floors. The Vale can be accessed two ways, under the mountains through the pay tunnel established by Gnom’s eldest son Gnom Gnom Hardgen Kibbutz Lorden Azhik, and over the mountains in the air ferry built by the famous gnomish entrepreneur and inventor the artificer / ranger Gurblethump Halley. Tensions run high between the operators of the Gnom Memorial Pay Tunnel and Gurblethump Halley’s Comet. Although the resident population of gnomes is few in number most gnomes return home frequently and over a million passengers travel into and out of the Vale every year, making transport a very big business over which surprisingly little blood has been shed. Rumours abound that young Gnom is training a wyvern to bring down the air ferry, while at the same time many suspect that Halley is developing a new ointment which will make fire obsolete (gnomish rumours are seldom internally consistent due to the short attention span of the rumourmongers).
Gnome names seem to defy logical analysis. While family names are common it is not unusual for more than half of the family to have different second names and for people who are not of the family to have the same second name. The only desire of gnomes when naming seems to be to give names which are unique. For one gnome to encounter another gnome who has the same name as him is the height of embarrassment and honour usually demand that the gnomes pelt each other with rotten fruit until one of them changes his name to something else.
Creating A Gnome
All characters on Saas have their abilities determined by a points system rather than dice rolling. Gnomes have remarkable dexterity and intelligence and above average strength and constitution while having very low wisdom. Gnomes have 83 points to spend, but their final scores must be within these limits, and the normal racial modifiers do not apply to this system. Gnomes may be any class and any combination of classes – including those which seem contradictory such as paladin / necromancer, but not those which by their nature are exclusive. So a gnome could be an evoker / druid, but could not be an evoker / mage or an evoker / illusionist or a druid / cleric. Gnomes may have access to wizard or clerical spells through only one class. However, because gnomes are very keen and have-a-go in their attitudes they may be a member of any class regardless of their stats, so a gnome with 6 DEX and 6 CHA could still be an illusionist / ranger. Gnomes are always chaotic good in alignment – without exception. But within that alignment gnomes may do things which are consistent with the character classes they have – so a paladin classed gnome would attempt to behave in a lawful fashion, while a necromancer classed gnome will perform what they see as evil acts, but which are in fact merely mischievous or simply a bit naughty.
Attribute: Min / Max
STR: 6 / 16
DEX: 8 / 19
CON: 6 / 16
WIS: 3 / 10
INT: 3 / 19
CHA: 3 / 15
Gnomes have the following special abilities.
Insatiable Curiosity: Gnomes are interested in absolutely everything. Because of this gnomes begin the game with the obscure knowledge trait and have an additional 3CP’s or 1NWP slot more than they would normally have.
Racial Abilities: Gnomes have all the standard PHB abilities.
Short Attention Span: Gnomes have no real commitment, they are eclectic and prone to going off on tangents. To represent this fact, gnomes must roll a wisdom check to continue performing any task after one combat round. If they fail this may mean they change weapons or tactics or simply decide they might like to run away or pretend to be a cooking pot and start making bubbling noises. For long term activities, such as building a stronghold or conducting a military campaign gnomes are at 50% standard effectiveness – so gnomish workers do half as much work and gnomish soldiers move half as fast when marching and are subject to the above combat problems. Gnomish machines are manifold in their purposes. Halley is known to have made an ice cannon that duplicates the effects of white dragon breath, which as a side effect also makes perfect scones from woodchips, darns socks and wakes you up in the morning with a cuckoo noise.
Gnome Clerical Spells: Gnome clerics, due to their low wisdom, would normally experience high spell failure and be limited in their casting abilities. However, their god Hrol looks favourably upon his people and, not being the sharpest pin in the divine sewing box himself, will grant clerics with wisdom of 10 all spells available to clerics with a wisdom of 18. Gnome clerics also never suffer spell failure due to low wisdom.
Non-Vital Race: Gnomes were the creation of the Mortal God Hrol and as such they are non-vital. Gnome wizards require a magical staff +1 and clerics require a holy symbol which they begin the game with. These things replace all material components less than 100gp in value, and are required to cast any spell at all – including those which normally require only verbal components.