One D&D gets gnomes close to perfect

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
I personally like that Humans can be Small or Medium in OneD&D, but that does leave a weird design space with Halflings, which came from Hobbits and basically had the definition of "3-foot tall English peasants" . . . which isn't a great niche for a player race, especially in a game where Humans can be just as short as halflings.
This is the crux of the issue.

IMO, Magical luck should be the basis of the Halfling story - “Lucky” is their big thing.

This points us that Halflings should lean into Leprauchaun-esque ideas without being reduced to anti-Irish stereotypes (and they probably shouldn’t have Irish accents or Celtic-inspired warriors lest they end up confused with LR-film style Always-Scottish Dwarves).

This tells me we should be looking wider at the House/Farmstead spirit archetype from fairy tales and folklore - as opposed to the related miner spirits or forest spirits that Gnomes seem to represent.

That then says to me that Gnomes and Halflings might really be just a single lineage with three sublineages, or else they should be three different peoples (and could be accompanied by little water people as well). This would suggest instead perhaps just letting Elves and Dwarves and other lineages also be small and say that gnomes are a type of small dwarf or elf, and Halflings are a culture of small humans (much as they were supposed to be in LR as part of the Human race…)
 

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Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
This is the crux of the issue.

IMO, Magical luck should be the basis of the Halfling story - “Lucky” is their big thing.

This points us that Halflings should lean into Leprauchaun-esque ideas without being reduced to anti-Irish stereotypes (and they probably shouldn’t have Irish accents or Celtic-inspired warriors lest they end up confused with LR-film style Always-Scottish Dwarves).

This tells me we should be looking wider at the House/Farmstead spirit archetype from fairy tales and folklore - as opposed to the related miner spirits or forest spirits that Gnomes seem to represent.

That then says to me that Gnomes and Halflings might really be just a single lineage with three sublineages, or else they should be three different peoples (and could be accompanied by little water people as well). This would suggest instead perhaps just letting Elves and Dwarves and other lineages also be small and say that gnomes are a type of small dwarf or elf, and Halflings are a culture of small humans (much as they were supposed to be in LR as part of the Human race…)
Making Halflings Leprechaun-esque is interesting and could be a good idea. What other similar luck-based creatures from other mythologies/folklore could this version of Halflings take inspiration from?

(Side Note: I'm kind of amazed that Leprechauns haven't been updated to 5e yet. It seems like they would have been perfect for The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. There are quite a few popular monsters from folklore that don't have official stats in 5e yet, like the Thunderbird, Leprechaun, Greek Lamias, and the World Serpent.)
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Making Halflings Leprechaun-esque is interesting and could be a good idea. What other similar luck-based creatures from other mythologies/folklore could this version of Halflings take inspiration from?

(Side Note: I'm kind of amazed that Leprechauns haven't been updated to 5e yet. It seems like they would have been perfect for The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. There are quite a few popular monsters from folklore that don't have official stats in 5e yet, like the Thunderbird, Leprechaun, Greek Lamias, and the World Serpent.)
Tomte/Tonttu/Nisse/Nis Puck, Lutin/Jardinain/Garden Gnome, the little hairy-faced people of various First Nations stories, Brownies, Hobs (from hence Hobbit derives), Domovoy, Husvaettr (literally, House-spirit, as opposed to the nature spirit Landvaetter or the Alfar Elves or Dvergr dwarves), Agathodaemon, Pooka/Puck/Bwga/Pwca/Bwbachod/Pookie/Boggart/Bugbear,Kabouter, Pixie/Piskie, Lares, the Yule Lads, Jack-o-Bowl, Cofgodas/Kofewalt, Penates, Trasgu, Anito/Anitu/Diwata, the Gasin/Gashin Gods, Zashiki-warashi/Zashiki-bōzu, Makuragaeshi, Akashaguma, Akagantaa, Kijimuna, Bunagaya, the list goes on…
 


This is the crux of the issue.

IMO, Magical luck should be the basis of the Halfling story - “Lucky” is their big thing.

This points us that Halflings should lean into Leprauchaun-esque ideas without being reduced to anti-Irish stereotypes (and they probably shouldn’t have Irish accents or Celtic-inspired warriors lest they end up confused with LR-film style Always-Scottish Dwarves).

This tells me we should be looking wider at the House/Farmstead spirit archetype from fairy tales and folklore - as opposed to the related miner spirits or forest spirits that Gnomes seem to represent.

That then says to me that Gnomes and Halflings might really be just a single lineage with three sublineages, or else they should be three different peoples (and could be accompanied by little water people as well). This would suggest instead perhaps just letting Elves and Dwarves and other lineages also be small and say that gnomes are a type of small dwarf or elf, and Halflings are a culture of small humans (much as they were supposed to be in LR as part of the Human race…)
I am fairly certain the race made to be merry England being cast as a well-known Irish spirit is not going to end mixing Tolkien fanatics and nationalism would be new but not a good idea.

the problem with halfling is by nature they were never supposed to be a major people in the setting even in the lendendarium they are mostly off to the side doing their own thing.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Maybe let's move the "gnomes and halflings are terrible" to one of the existing threads on that topic?
Fair. I hadn’t seen them and was reacting directly to comments in this thread but I can see how it’s a bit derailed from the topic at hand!

Ultimately I feel like Gnomes are close to perfect as is too - and removing sublineages would help get them over the finish line and also distinguish from Halflings and Elves and Dwarves more… I’d just want to be sure any Gnome changes don’t push them into the same territory changes to Halflings are pushing since they need to give space for Small Humans, too!
 

masshysteria

Explorer
What 4E did to halflings and gnomes were among the reasons I noped out of that edition.
Interesting, I like most of your gnome ideas so far. Was there something in particular that put a bad taste in your mouth? I appreciated how halflings and gnomes felt very different from one another and the other races in 4th edition. And who can forget they gave us this guy:
I was actually hoping the new gnome would be inspired more by the 4E gnome. Some of the more interesting parts:
Player's Handbook 2 (4th Edition) Gnomes

Gnomes are smaller even than halflings, rarely exceeding 4 feet in height. Apart from their size, they resemble elves or eladrin, with pointed ears and chiseled facial features such as high cheekbones and sharp jaws. They have a more wild look than eladrin do, though, particularly in the hair that sprouts from their heads in random directions. Some male gnomes sprout tufts of hair from their chins, but they otherwise lack body hair.... Their hair can be virtually any color, from stark white to blond and various shades of brown to autumnal orange or green. Their eyes are glittering black orbs.

Gnome folk heroes are not mighty warriors, but tricksters who slip out of captivity, play great pranks without being detected, or sneak past magical guardians. They deflect both aggression and attention with humor, and they guard their thoughts with friendly laughter.

They appreciate witty conversation, especially rapid- fire repartee. They are inventive and resourceful, although they have little interest in or aptitude for the kind of technology found in human cities
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Interesting, I like most of your gnome ideas so far. Was there something in particular that put a bad taste in your mouth? I appreciated how halflings and gnomes felt very different from one another and the other races in 4th edition. And who can forget they gave us this guy.

I was actually hoping the new gnome would be inspired more by the 4E gnome. Some of the more interesting parts:
I LOVE the 4E Gnome. It was definitely more Forest Gnome than Rock Gnome, though. Both Svirfneblin and Tinker Gnome were statted as alternate lineages in latter 4E products. 5E Rock Gnome shares a lot of similarity with the 4Essentials Tinker Gnome, as do the Svirfs with each other (save the fact that 4Essentials Svirfs were a Str/Con lineage a la Goliaths, Orcs, and some Dwarves).
 

Interesting, I like most of your gnome ideas so far. Was there something in particular that put a bad taste in your mouth? I appreciated how halflings and gnomes felt very different from one another and the other races in 4th edition. And who can forget they gave us this guy:
I was actually hoping the new gnome would be inspired more by the 4E gnome. Some of the more interesting parts:
I agree that having gnomes and halflings differentiated from one another is doable and generally a good thing.

I think -- and I suspect the architects of 5E agree on this -- that while introducing new ideas and new flavors to existing player character races and classes is great and expands their appeal, cutting away non-problematic parts of them turns away existing fans in favor of finding new ones.

4E halflings in particular -- dreadlocked nomadic boat people -- are such a striking change from even the 3E halflings that it's hard to see how someone (like me!) who likes halflings and both plays them and has run all-halfling games would feel like what I liked before still existed. The 1D&D halflings in contrast bring together all flavors of existing halflings -- including 4E! -- and make them all part of the same package.

I think 4E gnomes are mostly fine -- I find the 4E cartoons charming -- but they're still a sharp break from the past and, by taking them out of the PHB, WotC back then was sending a clear message about which players they were worried about and which they weren't. (It's also essentially impossible to play a traditional illusionist in 4E, as illusion magic just flavors existing types of 4E spells, rather than being the freeform magic that requires a lot of adjudication and negotiation with a DM to make work.)

4E was very good at being the particular game they wanted to make. I know a ton of computer game makers who adore it from a design standpoint. That said, I'm a lot more interested in killing sacred cows when they're mechanical cruft and not when they eliminate broad swaths of past lore where the only problem is that the designer didn't like them. Make additive changes in those cases, not subtractive.
 

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