I was discussing the Dragon Hack rules recently with some of the folks on the Green Ronin forums and one of the posters there innocently asked me why there was no racial traits entry for gnomes in the Basic Set pdf.
It’s a good question, and one I likely should have clarified in the Dragon Hack text, but here’s the answer I gave over on the GR pages:
The truth? The truth is that in the decades of playing DnD and other games, no one – in any campaign I’ve ever run or played in – has ever. ever. actually played a gnome. That was not the reason they were excluded per se, but it didn’t help when I was deciding whether or not to exclude them.
The reason I did exclude them is that my home game is set in the Midgard setting being developed by Open Design, and kobolds are a common race in that setting. So I thought I could substitute gnomes for kobolds and add something to the game without losing something the players at my table would be interested in playing.
Now, while all of that is the truth, I recognize that by releasing my home game rules to the public and continuing to support the game here on the website that Dragon Hack is no longer just for the folks around my game table, but for folks sitting around game tables all over the world. So, there’s no reason not to support the elements they might want to see in play just because it runs up against some pre-conceived prejudice of mine. That’s along way of saying I went ahead and worked up a quick set of racial traits for the gnome, should your players want to play one in your next campaign. The majority of the text is courtesy of the Pathfinder SRD, of course, and the art — as always — is taken from the Paizo blog under the terms of their community use policy. For more on my use of Pathfinder material on the website, please see my About page.
Gnomes trace their lineage back to the mysterious realm of the fey, a place where colors are brighter, the wildlands wilder, and emotions more primal. Unknown forces drove the ancient gnomes from that realm long ago, forcing them to seek refuge in this world; despite this, the gnomes have never completely abandoned their fey roots or adapted to mortal culture. As a result, gnomes are widely regarded by the other races as alien and strange.
Gnomes are one of the smallest of the common races, generally standing just over 3 feet in height. Their hair tends toward vibrant colors such as the fiery orange of autumn leaves, the verdant green of forests at springtime, or the deep reds and purples of wildflowers in bloom. Similarly, their flesh tones range from earthy browns to floral pinks, frequently with little regard for heredity. Gnomes possess highly mutable facial characteristics, and many have overly large mouths and eyes, an effect, which can be both disturbing and stunning, depending on the individual.
Gnomes are a quirky race. They take mistakes in stride, turning derision into mirth and baffling their foes, if only long enough to work a bit of mischief at their expense. Gnomes love magic and music, but also have a love of craft, clockworks, and the work of their hands. Whatever their passion, gnomes throw themselves into it absolutely. Once obsessed and absorbed, a gnome can scarcely think of anything else, regardless of whether his mind bends to new adventures at home or in the great wide world. Given their fey heritage, many gnomes love wild places where their fey cousins congregate. Increasing numbers of gnomes, however, eschew these places for the cities, their natural curiosity and love of creation drawing them to commerce, trade, and manufactories where they can follow and promote the latest discoveries. Such gnomes often have different racial Traits than those raised among the rocks and trees.
If you choose to play a gnome, modify your character as follows:
Add 1 to either your Communication or Constitution attributes. Gnomes are surprisingly hardy, and their attitude makes them naturally agreeable.
You can read and speak Sylvan and the Trade Tongue.
You gain a number of unique racial traits at character creation.
Gnomish Magic: Gnomes gain a +1 bonus to their spellpower when casting spells from the Spirit school. Gnomes also get a +1 bonus on their tests to resist such magic.*
Gnome Size: Gnomes gain a +1 to the attack rolls and Defense when fighting creatures larger than themselves. They also gain a +2 bonus to their Dexterity (Stealth) tests.
Keen Senses: Gnomes gain a +1 to their Perception (Hearing) and Perception (Seeing) tests.
Obsessive: Gnome characters gain a +1 racial bonus to Dexterity (Crafting) tests.