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Conerning Gnomes (+thread. please don't crap the thread with anti-gnome negativity)

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I do like the forest gnome for making a "classic" 2e gnome illusionist. I don't think I use rock gnomes much, their racial trait to make things looks more like it should be a skill than an in-born trait, something like the artificer should gain at 1st level or that should be granted with a gnomish engineering skill. That they gain automatically and that other races can gain with the right background.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I was talking about Forest Gnomes in my friends setting with my wife today, and really dug into how they might interact differently with nature than elves or (their closer neighbors in this world) Goliaths or humans.

For one thing, I think it matters to keep in mind that Gnomes are MUCH higher in intelligence than humans. Think about what +2 represents in a scale that normally goes from 8-20. How much stronger half-orcs are than humans? Same scale.

For me, that speaks to a scientific naturalist, rather than a Druid. I’d want a Naturalist Artificer, rather than a Ranger. Or a Druid subclass that gets a familiar and wizard style ritual casting, with some elements of cataloging and categorizing and coming to understand nature and its spirits intellectually. Or a Nature Wizard.

The gnomes of that setting hail from a northerly mountainous region that was once the seat of a Winter Fey kingdom, in a world where there is no separate Feywild plane, but instead deep wildernesses whose description is straight outta the 4e Feywild lore. This kingdom fell when fiends erupted from one of the largest mountains, that housed one of the two sister thrones of the realm, but some of the old magic remains. Trees and other flora and fauna live much higher on the mountain than they should, some the offspring of the ancient Great Trees that could grow so large their trunks were the size of a town, and the stumps of which still house Gnomish towns or clan holds.

The folk of the mountain, mostly Gnomes, Goliaths, and Dwarves, are largely animists with strong ancestor veneration, but for the gnomes it is less intuitive, and more measured and studious. Their alchemy is more advanced than elvin alchemy in the field of biochemical alchemy, and related fields, but they don’t tend to form the bonds that lead to Druidic power as often. There are libraries where the spirits of the ancient trees that house them watch over the books, and those books have detailed descriptions of types of spirits, the differences between spirits of rapids and those of slow and wide rivers, pine trees and redwoods, rivers that get grumpy in spring and those that delight in the rush of spring melt, etc. If you want scientific names for types of fairies, a Gnomish library is the way to.

They're also more likely to change traditions, experiment, offer strange gifts to old spirits instead of simple milk and honey. When they do become druids, they are drawn to the most knowledgeable spirits, like raven gods, and tricksters like the fox.

Rangers aren’t as uncommon, but scout rogues are more common than rangers. Clever DMs might swap some Druid or ranger spells in to the arcane trickster list.

Speaking with small beasts means gathering all manner of information from one’s critter friends, and makes them great falconers.
sleep now, more later!
 

Coroc

Explorer
Except for darksun i prefer gnomes over halflings anytime. They are much easyer to build into a campaign be it as NPCs or as PC. Being VERY old school i do restrict classes for them. I like them archetypical as being tricksters /illusionists rogues etc. Gnome fighter ? Ok but you go with short weapons and i love you the more if you use a dex based build. Gnome barbarian? NO WAY never ever not at my table :)

Ah there is one official game world but i did never play it nor dm it, Dragonlance, in this campaign i would prefer the kender over the tinker gnomes. I rather have some notorious "i borrowed this and that" Kender in the group than some small guy whose devices explode al lthe time mid fight when the healer is at 5 hitpoints :)
 

Cleon

Adventurer
But maybe one could also add more useful tinkered inventions to the list, like repeating crossbows, or automated grappling hook devices, or nonmagical darkvision goggles, or something?
Forget about the cutesy forest dweller or eccentric tinkerer, here's a far more compelling gnome character archetype…

Batgnome!

Where does he get those wonderful toys?

Although batgnome would never use a repeating crossbow since his parents were killed with one by a kobold mugger in Crime Thicket.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I sometimes struggle with where to place Deep Gnomes in a homebrew setting. I just don't make use of the classic Underdark stuff like culturally evil Drow and Duergar, and I prefer the proper underdark, if it even exists in my setting, to be something wholly alien and weird, like travelling to the deep ocean.

In my friend's setting, I helped him find a fun place for them. The forest gnomes I described upthread are often beset by the "Ashmen" of the northeastern peninsula of the main continent, but just as often they come for trade. As a result, there are half-gnomes in the fjords, often living in tunnels that open out to sea and cliff caves, and if someone were to play one would probably be a deep gnome. These folk are part of Gnomish society, but they are less fond of the sun, and more comfortable in the cold and the deeper parts of the mountain, where other gnomes like to live quite near to the surface, and they have the greyish coloration of their Shadar-kai ancestors.

In another world I'm building, Gnomes are one of the more imporant races historically, run one of the most important nations, and the subraces are more like proclivities than congenital differences, so deep gnomes are just gnomes that have an affinity for the dark, sneaking about, etc. In my version of Abeir, they are entirely replaced with Sea Gnomes, who keep superior dark vision, and get the ability to hold their breath for twice as long as normal, are "acclimated" to the deep water, and swimming doesn't cost extra movement.

But normal Svirfneblin have always eluded me in terms of how to use them.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I've also been toying with a couple homebrew things for Gnomes (other than the above Sea Gnome).

Shadow Gnomes (Shadar-neblin?): I've got two worlds where gnomes sometimes intermarry with Shadar-Kai, and I wonder what a good mechanical representation of that might be. The Shadar-Kai teleport is certainly too powerful to add to a gnome subrace. I don't use elf shadar-kai, but instead built a shadar-kai race based on an elf chassis.
On my shadar-kai, for clarity. They know a language called Vaes Shadar, which allows them to speak to corvids, they have adv on saves against magical cold and are acclimated to extreme cold, and when an effect would make them automatically lose a death save, they simply roll a death save instead. They also gain +5 speed while in dim light or darkness, and can teleport half their speed and at lvl3 become insubstantial until the start of their next turn as a bonus action (1/sr).
So, maybe give them the language, and the teleport 1/LR? that's probably still too much. Gnomes just don't have a ton of space in the subrace. Maybe the language, cold acclimation (basically a ribbon), and the death save feature?

Tree Gnomes: These gnomes are athletic, fast, and stronger than it seems like they should be. THey get +1 Strength, climbing doesn't cost extra movement, and they can make long jumps without a running start if they instead swing from something like a branch, pole, railing, rope, etc.

Quicklings: Ignore difficult terrain while dashing, speed 30, dash as a bonus action.
A feat that gives at-will Longstrider, Disadvantage on opportunity attacks against them while dashing, and 1/LR Freedom of Movement and Blur. Similar to Drow High Magic.

Sylvan Gnome: +1 Wisdom. Druid Cantrip of your choice. Learn Sylvan.

Gnomish Cultural Exchange Feats: A feat for each subrace that grants any gnome that takes it the benefits of another subrace they aren't part of. So, a Forest Gnome can gain Tinkering stuff, etc. Add +1 int or secondary stat of the relevant subrace, and then probably add something else bc gnome subraces are mostly quite small.

Gnomish Illusionist feat: havent decided if it should just be extra spells, with disguise self or silent image at-will, or if it should be a feat that works more like spell sniper, in that it give maybe 1 cantrip (or a level 1 illusion at will) and then makes your illusions better? Maybe it gives Minor Illusion, but makes it stronger, perhaps you can do a visual and audio illusion at the same time, and it can fill twice the space?
Then, all illusions you create last longer? So, if the duration is 1 minute, it's 10, 10min becomes 1hour, 1 hour becomes 8 hours, 8 hours becomes 24 hours?
 

coolAlias

Explorer
I like the idea of giving Rock Gnomes the mending cantrip (tried to quote but it broke), though proficiency in Tinker's Tools overlaps this quite a bit (per tool expansions in XGtE). Perhaps changing their Tinker trait to allow them to fix anything for 1/2 the normal cost or in 1/2 the time.

I also think they should keep proficiency with Tinker's Tools, maybe even get expertise (similar to Dwarves' Stone Cunning trait), and the Tinker trait in the race description should be moved to the tools section - anyone with proficiency in Tinker's Tools should be able to make these gadgets, in my opinion.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I like the idea of giving Rock Gnomes the mending cantrip (tried to quote but it broke), though proficiency in Tinker's Tools overlaps this quite a bit (per tool expansions in XGtE). Perhaps changing their Tinker trait to allow them to fix anything for 1/2 the normal cost or in 1/2 the time.

I also think they should keep proficiency with Tinker's Tools, maybe even get expertise (similar to Dwarves' Stone Cunning trait), and the Tinker trait in the race description should be moved to the tools section - anyone with proficiency in Tinker's Tools should be able to make these gadgets, in my opinion.
I agree completely on that last part. I do think it makes sense to let them make these as part of a long rest, though, for cheap.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
Now, first, a quick note about the idea of a race needing to be the "XYZ" race.

[sblock] IMHO, this is a nonsense concept. Orcs and Minotaurs and Goliaths and Firbolgs are all distinct, and them all being in dnd or in a specific dnd world has nothing at all to do with whether or not a new "big strong scary guy" race should be included, or a "monstrous looking and antagonistic to the pretty races" race. Just like the real world has several island dwelling fisher-gatherers, fantasy worlds can have as many or as few "small, quick, likeable" folk as a group wants. The world won't be any more or less good based on whether it has none, or several.

Minotaurs don't talk to plants and disguise themselves as elves or have a knack for druidry, Goliath don't have a cultural association with labyrinths or a bestial nature, orcs aren't part of The Mountain, etc, but even if orcs and minotaurs were more similar than they are, so what? How weird would it be if there were only one (1) race per broad archetype? How much divine intervention would be required to make that even happen? Look at the real world! Look at all the flying species in the world, and how many of them have literally no relation to one another beyond the relation of literally all lifeforms on Earth by way of the first organism. What nonsense would it be if there were only birds, because bats and flying insects are redundant? Likewise, if aarakokra are the only flying intelligent tool users in a world where a dozen or more intelligent tool users evolved and share the world, how is that more realistic or more interesting than their being 3-4 races who "share" the air space, compete for aeries and resources, etc?

I can't imagine finding the forest particularly interesting in dnd if they only "people" who come from there are elves.

That being said, Gnomes are not "silly dwarves" or "magic halflings" or "small elves" or any such thing. They're just Gnomes. [/sblock]
I understand this is a + thread. And I’m not here to dump on gnomes. I actually like them, when they are portrayed in interesting ways. But I feel like by presenting an argument against the idea of races needing to fill niches, you’re inviting counter-argument. And I don’t think you’re representing the idea fairly at all. There can be more than one “small, likeable” race just like there can be more than one “big, strong” race. Critique of gnomes not having enough of a unique identity isn’t about insuring that there only be one race for each broad archetype. It’s about a desire for each race to be interesting in some way that is uniquely its own. Calling them “silly dwarves,” “small elves,” “magical halflings,” or whatever else isn’t meant literally, its a shorthand for “I don’t see any compelling reason to play a gnome over a (dwarf/elf/halfling/whatever).” The critique behind it isn’t that they’re too similar to other races, it’s that they don’t have anything going for them that is distinctly “gnome-like.”

Now, at this point I feel it’s important to clarify - I don’t actually think this critique of gnomes holds water, personally. While this has been an issue of some previous iterations of gnomes, I do think in their current form they stand out well enough on their own. If anything, I’d argue that in 5e, Firbolgs are the ones that are “just giant (forest) gnomes.” Again, I’m not trying to yuck on your gnome yum here, I’m just arguing against the suggestion that it’s silly to want races to fill unique niches. Kindly don’t yuck that yum of mine.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I understand this is a + thread. And I’m not here to dump on gnomes. I actually like them, when they are portrayed in interesting ways. But I feel like by presenting an argument against the idea of races needing to fill niches, you’re inviting counter-argument. And I don’t think you’re representing the idea fairly at all. There can be more than one “small, likeable” race just like there can be more than one “big, strong” race. Critique of gnomes not having enough of a unique identity isn’t about insuring that there only be one race for each broad archetype. It’s about a desire for each race to be interesting in some way that is uniquely its own. Calling them “silly dwarves,” “small elves,” “magical halflings,” or whatever else isn’t meant literally, its a shorthand for “I don’t see any compelling reason to play a gnome over a (dwarf/elf/halfling/whatever).” The critique behind it isn’t that they’re too similar to other races, it’s that they don’t have anything going for them that is distinctly “gnome-like.”

Now, at this point I feel it’s important to clarify - I don’t actually think this critique of gnomes holds water, personally. While this has been an issue of some previous iterations of gnomes, I do think in their current form they stand out well enough on their own. If anything, I’d argue that in 5e, Firbolgs are the ones that are “just giant (forest) gnomes.” Again, I’m not trying to yuck on your gnome yum here, I’m just arguing against the suggestion that it’s silly to want races to fill unique niches. Kindly don’t yuck that yum of mine.
My argument, and part of the premise of the thread, is precisely that no race needs to have some unique standout.

I can’t really use Firbolgs as an example, because I don’t see much in common with forest gnomes outside of living in the forest and talking to creatures, which is about as similar as elves and dwarves.

But even if Firbolgs were high Int, hyper creative, etc, I’d still reject the notion that, broadly speaking, it matters how well distinguished from forest gnomes they are in terms of including them in the game or a setting.

If someone’s home setting is designed for simplicity, and there is only 1 animalistic race, 1 druidy-nature-hippy race, 1 clever crafter race, 1 small “forgotten folk” race, 1 “dark” race, and 1 “mysterious magical folk” race, more power to them.

My argument isn’t that such world building is bad. It is that such world building isn’t better than “cantina” world-building, or something in between.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I also always challenge traditionalism (tradition for the sake of tradition) in world building.

If dwarves and tinker gnomes are “too similar” (they aren’t), then I’ll ditch dwarves long before I consider ditching gnomes. Same with wood elves and Firbolgs, or gnomes in general and halflings, orcs and Goliaths, etc.

(Tangent: autocorrect is weird. I’m not capitalizing some race names but not others; autocorrect is. It also refuses to learn “orcs” as the most likely thing I mean to type, rather than “orcas”, or “IRC’s”)
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
My argument, and part of the premise of the thread, is precisely that no race needs to have some unique standout.

I can’t really use Firbolgs as an example, because I don’t see much in common with forest gnomes outside of living in the forest and talking to creatures, which is about as similar as elves and dwarves.

But even if Firbolgs were high Int, hyper creative, etc, I’d still reject the notion that, broadly speaking, it matters how well distinguished from forest gnomes they are in terms of including them in the game or a setting.

If someone’s home setting is designed for simplicity, and there is only 1 animalistic race, 1 druidy-nature-hippy race, 1 clever crafter race, 1 small “forgotten folk” race, 1 “dark” race, and 1 “mysterious magical folk” race, more power to them.

My argument isn’t that such world building is bad. It is that such world building isn’t better than “cantina” world-building, or something in between.
Again though, you seem to either be misunderstanding or misrepresenting the position of those of us who prefer our fantasy races to have unique features. The aim isn’t to have only one race of each of these archetypes. There could be 57 animalistic races for all I care, the desire is for each of those races to have something interesting about them that is iconic to that race. Again, it’s not about avoiding overlap between races, it’s about insuring each race has something special about them.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Again though, you seem to either be misunderstanding or misrepresenting the position of those of us who prefer our fantasy races to have unique features. The aim isn’t to have only one race of each of these archetypes. There could be 57 animalistic races for all I care, the desire is for each of those races to have something interesting about them that is iconic to that race. Again, it’s not about avoiding overlap between races, it’s about insuring each race has something special about them.
I addressed and disagreed with that in the post you're quoting. A good example is the lizard people that could have been in the Ravnica book, but were instead "use lizardfolk stats". Lizardfolk stats don't actually represent the race, so that shouldn't have been the solution in an ideal world. Obviously sometimes you have to sacrifice something for page count, or because the customer base has a surprising and weird preference, or whatever, but the ideal shouldn't be, for a game that isn't designed to be super thematically tight and focused, to ditch unique race stats just because there isn't a singular thing they have that is "iconic" to them.

Mountain and Hill Dwarves don't have anything iconic that isn't shared between them, IMO, but it's still good that they're distinct. The fact that there are hard mechanical distinctions between races means that in 5e, for me and every other player I've ever met who isn't deeply invested in FR lore (for example), moon elves and whatever other elves that are also High Elves mechanically are just High Elves. They're not actually distinct groups, they're just the elf equivelent of humans from Cormyr and humans from Sembia. Which isn't bad at all, but it's good that there are actually distinct mechanics for wood elves and high elves and eladrin and sea elves, because thematically they are distinct, and it would be completely innapropriate for wood elves to have a wizard cantrip.

In the same way, mountain dwarves and hill dwarves don't have iconic traits, but they do have both mechanical and thematic distinction, and a different story, which is all they need to justify their distinct existence in the rules.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
I addressed and disagreed with that in the post you're quoting. A good example is the lizard people that could have been in the Ravnica book, but were instead "use lizardfolk stats". Lizardfolk stats don't actually represent the race, so that shouldn't have been the solution in an ideal world. Obviously sometimes you have to sacrifice something for page count, or because the customer base has a surprising and weird preference, or whatever, but the ideal shouldn't be, for a game that isn't designed to be super thematically tight and focused, to ditch unique race stats just because there isn't a singular thing they have that is "iconic" to them.

Mountain and Hill Dwarves don't have anything iconic that isn't shared between them, IMO, but it's still good that they're distinct. The fact that there are hard mechanical distinctions between races means that in 5e, for me and every other player I've ever met who isn't deeply invested in FR lore (for example), moon elves and whatever other elves that are also High Elves mechanically are just High Elves. They're not actually distinct groups, they're just the elf equivelent of humans from Cormyr and humans from Sembia. Which isn't bad at all, but it's good that there are actually distinct mechanics for wood elves and high elves and eladrin and sea elves, because thematically they are distinct, and it would be completely innapropriate for wood elves to have a wizard cantrip.

In the same way, mountain dwarves and hill dwarves don't have iconic traits, but they do have both mechanical and thematic distinction, and a different story, which is all they need to justify their distinct existence in the rules.
That’s fine. We don’t have to agree about the importance of races having unique characteristics, and given the + nature of this thread I don’t want to derail the conversation with arguments about it. I just felt that you were misrepresenting the position of those of us who do desire unique characteristics in our races and wanted to set the record straight.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
Mechanically they're a bit lackluster partly because if the intelligence statbbeingbkostly useless and power creep on charisma based spellcasters so a wizard isn't even that good most of the time at low levels. And charisma I'd much more useful.

WotC dropped the ball on around half the races IMHO.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Mechanically they're a bit lackluster partly because if the intelligence statbbeingbkostly useless and power creep on charisma based spellcasters so a wizard isn't even that good most of the time at low levels. And charisma I'd much more useful.

WotC dropped the ball on around half the races IMHO.
Plus thread.

I’m not interested in diatribes in desperate need of editing about how bad Int is.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
Interesting is entirely subjective. But advantage on mental saves, stone camouflage, and 120' darkvision w/o sunlight sensitivity makes for pretty damn awesome rogues. With an intelligence bonus to boot for arcane trickster.
Deep Gnome Abjurer plus that racial feat is good.

I kind of like Gnomes, the main problem is only 1 class has intelligence as a primary stat and two archetypes as a secondary or tertiary stat.
 
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