OSR [Shadowdark] How would you make a gnome?

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
While making new classes isn't exactly super hard, making new ancestries in Shadowdark is easy.

To me, the most glaring absence in the quickstart (and apparently full book) is the absence of the greatest of all player races, the gnome.

The format for ancestries appears to be this:
  1. Name
  2. One or two-sentence description that avoids judgemental language about an ancestry (half-orcs and goblins both get a positive spin on what's still a pretty traditional take on them).
  3. A sentence about what language PCs know. (Typically Common and one more, but not always -- halflings just know Common and elves know Common, Elvish and Sylvan.)
  4. One cool ability or stat bonus.
The only real question for gnomes is whether they should get a stat bonus (maybe +1 to spellcasting checks, similar to one of the options elves get) or an ability comparable to halflings being able to turn invisible once a day for three rounds. Getting a free three round casting of whatever the equivalent of silent image will be in the full game seems roughly comparable.

Thoughts? Any ancestries you want to whip up for Shadowdark?
 

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Whats the current list?
The quickstart appears to have all the ancestries:
  • Dwarf (speak Common and Dwarvish; start with +2 HP and roll for hit points with advantage)
  • Elf (speak Common, Elvish and Sylvan; get either a +1 to attack with ranged weapons or +1 to spellcasting checks)
  • Goblin (speak Common and Goblin; can't be surprised)
  • Halfling (speak Common; once per day can become invisible for 3 rounds)
  • Half-Orc (speak Common and Orcish; +1 to attack and damage with melee weapons)
  • Human (Speak Common and one additional common language; get a second talent roll at level one)
Talents are the randomly determined class abilities that each class gets. Characters get one every odd level, so humans getting a second talent right off the bat is pretty sweet.

Hit points are also generally very low in Shadowdark, so dwarves getting more hit points and half-orcs doing extra damage are both really nice abilities, too.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
If gnomes just got speaking Common and Gnome and +1 to spellcasting checks, that seems like they're simply a worse elf. Gnome haters aside, that's not great from a balance standpoint. I'm not sure if giving them an additional language balances it out, but it gets them closer, but I'm also not sure that gnomes being linguists is really a thing outside of 3.5E making them into bards for a few minutes there.

Spells in Shadowdark don't have schools, but maybe they could have a +2 spellcasting check on any spells intended to mislead or deceive a target, but the language there would have to be pretty tight, since the game doesn't use any keywords that being an illusionist could key off of. (And, at the moment, the only illusion spells in the game, so far as we know for sure, are invisibility and mirror image, plus at least one witch spell in the first Cursed Scroll zine.)
 
Last edited:

Scribe

Legend
  • Dwarf (speak Common and Dwarvish; start with +2 HP and roll for hit points with advantage)
  • Elf (speak Common, Elvish and Sylvan; get either a +1 to attack with ranged weapons or +1 to spellcasting checks)
  • Goblin (speak Common and Goblin; can't be surprised)
  • Halfling (speak Common; once per day can become invisible for 3 rounds)
  • Half-Orc (speak Common and Orcish; +1 to attack and damage with melee weapons)
  • Human (Speak Common and one additional common language; get a second talent roll at level one)

Oh, surprised Goblin is a default, I thought I had missed some expanded list.

I'll do Tiefling/Aasimar for sure but will want to look over the game in detail first.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Some potential features for the gnomes:

  • Can move into tiny, X-wide openings.
  • Can mimic any sounds without moving their lips
  • Can work on mundane chores while resting without interrupting the rest.
  • Speak with burrowing animals.
  • Can enchant tools and object to use them at distance.
  • Have advantage to resist mind-affecting spells.
  • +2 to spellcasting roll while hidden.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Some potential features for the gnomes:

  • Can move into tiny, X-wide openings.
  • Can mimic any sounds without moving their lips
  • Can work on mundane chores while resting without interrupting the rest.
  • Speak with burrowing animals.
  • Can enchant tools and object to use them at distance.
  • Have advantage to resist mind-affecting spells.
  • +2 to spellcasting roll while hidden.
Those are some great choices!
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
It occurs to me that if the quickstart does, in fact, show all the low level spells in the core rulebook, that means there isn't an equivalent to silent image in the core book, so maybe the ancestry ability needs to be something not about illusions.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
It occurs to me that if the quickstart does, in fact, show all the low level spells in the core rulebook, that means there isn't an equivalent to silent image in the core book, so maybe the ancestry ability needs to be something not about illusions.
Since Gnomes are traditionally tiny, hidden workers helping the tall folk in their house chores, I think being able to do the equivalent of Prestidigitation + Mending as a 5-minutes actions could be cool.
 


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