D&D 5E What interesting niche do Gnomes have in your Homebrew Campaigns?

Lycurgon

Adventurer
I am interested in what place Gnomes fill in your campaign worlds? Is it different from standard Gnomes as Depicted in the PHB?

I often have difficulty finding an interesting niche for Gnomes in my campaigns world. I don't like the tinker Gnome stereotype, I think that an entire (sub)race of tinkerers is like have all dwarves being Blacksmiths or all halflings are bakers.

Back in 1e Gnomes were a bit Dwarvish with a forest bent and a like for illusion magic. Now they have a Faewild connection that makes them feel almost like a mixture of halflings, dwarves, and elves to me.

This is just my thoughts on them. If you like them the way the are or think of them differently that is okay. I am just looking for different ways to represent them.

So do you have an interesting/unique take on Gnomes in your world? Where do they fit in?

Also, if their is a 3rd party campaign world that does something interesting with them I am happy to here what they are too.
For example, I kind of like the 3e Midnight campaign's take on Gnomes being travelling boat people that traded with everyone as they travelled the rivers of the continent.
 

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MGibster

Legend
I am interested in what place Gnomes fill in your campaign worlds? Is it different from standard Gnomes as Depicted in the PHB?
Gnomes were driven to near extinction in my campaign world by the current big evil empire. There are a few that are still around, but it's not a viable population and eventually the last gnome will grow old, die, and that'll be it. I suppose the niche they fill is to serve as a reminder that the evil and what the stakes are when it comes to resisting them.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
So, I ran a 5e game for my kids, my niece and my nephew. They got into it, and as often happens started to make up characters.

My youngest made up a forest gnome, and then they spent liek two hours brainstorming from the information in the book and what I had told them.

About how they all lived in hidden homes in the forest, some in trees and roots and such, and when outsiders came they would all hide and the villiage itself would seem like nothing to notice. But when there weren't outsiders everything was lively. Different trees would have bands that competed against each other, but they really had a community vibe going for anything. Big pot-luck dinners regularly, "barn raising" type of community joining together, etc. If there was a missing child they would put up an illusion in the air pointing down so they kid would know where to go, and every other gnome who saw it would use their minor illusion ability to put up an arrow pointing at it so it would spread wide. They brainstormed on all the ways talking to animals could be used for the community.

It was really fantastic.

So of course, I had to steal it and twist it for a 5e game I was running for a different group, exploring new lands.

They came across a very xenophobic forest gnome empire. Outsiders were not welcoem within their borders at all. They fed the local wildlife and use them as scouts and early warnings about those coming within their borders. They were extremely community driven still, but that community excluded all outsiders. Ended up making them fairly scary.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
When I run D&D, gnomes typically fill the "fey humanoid" niche far more solidly than elves do. While tinker gnomes are possible, overall their society leans a bit more druidic, and owning their innate magical nature. The greatest sages of magic are old gnomes that must be sought out in their natural environs, and they will not be found if you are a chowderhead.
 




tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I pretty much steal the gang banger "gaangsta" gnomes from the monster hunter international books & swap the glocks for eye catching magic staffs no mater what their role & position in society
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
They’re the hulderfolk - like hobs and brownies. Strange and mischievous beings that have one foot in the mortal world and one foot in the Otherworld. Elves and dwarves are too grounded in mortal reality to properly fill that niche, at least in their modern incarnations, and Eladrin are too close to fae, at least as I portray them. Gnomes skirt the line between the two.

I also like mine to have tufted ears and tails.
 

I love gnomes precisely because they are the "little ugly duckling" of the core PC races, ignored by almost all players, but mainly because these are too typecasted to be rogues or illusionists. That is the reason I like the racial feats in Pathfinder 2 because this allows more flexibility.

In the right hands gnomes can be interesting and charismatic characters, as Tyrion Lannister, but with some magical powers. If you want a magical girl with a lot of comedy, then the female gnome is your girl.

About the lore the gnomes are wellcome among the civilitated people, and with links with the Feywild because in the past some ancestors were abducted by faes to be their "pets" in the best of the cases. They have a love-hate relation with the feys, as frienemies. There is mutual respect and relative tolerance with kobolds if there aren't worshippers of evil gods. They fear and hate the fomorians from the Feywild because these launched raids to catch slaves, and sometimes "food". Some gnomes may be "mutants", becoming "springgans", feared by the rest of gnomes as the Increible Hulk of the X-Men mutants by Marvel comics. If gnomes suffer some "urban legend" is about wererats and werelagomorphs(wererabbits) gnomes, or gnomes tainted by dark magic becoming fomorians. The truth is some faes escaping from the Feywild would rather to hide among the gnomes but almost never they cause troubles.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
In Six Kingdoms, the forest gnomes ousted the elves as the leaders of the Summer and Spring Fey Courts.

The rock gnomes built Boltron with clockworks, string, gems, and bound elemental wisps. But they are weasels instead of lions and more than 5 of them.
 

Bitbrain

Glory to Ka!
Well, in my Eberron games, Zilargo is less a police state and more a nation-sized opium den. The Zil gnomes themselves are all dreamlily addicts, so if you want a campaign using some ideas from inception, you can expect the gnomes to play a big part in the campaign.
 

aco175

Legend
I find that 5e doe not do gnomes well and they have mostly fallen out of my games as well. The last campaign was the box set, Icespire Peak and one of the first missions was to a secret gnome community living in caves. The trope the book has is silly and I skipped the whole mission. They were find back in the day because they could do some magic where dwarves and halflings could not, but today anyone can be anything, so that bumps out gnomes and being more like an offshoot of dwarves.

In my games a player could pick gnome as a PC and they could be from around, but most would be handwaved as living among the other races in scattered pockets.
 



Stormonu

Legend
The gnomes of my homebrew are the creation of the dwarves and elves, meant to be a bridge between the two races. Unfortunately, the pranks and antics of the gnomes instead drove a wedge between the two. When the truth came out, they were kicked out of both's realms and have settled in hilly lands and mines of their own - where they have taken halflings under their wing. Most halflings have an Uncle/Aunt Gem, which consists of a gnome clan that is friendly towards the halfling and their family lineage. Halfling communities often work as the "face" for gnomish trade, being middlemen to sell gnomish gemstones, wares and clockworks to the larger world.

The gnomes are mostly secretive, to the point non-halflings have rarely encountered them, and if they did, might mistake them for the wizened population of the gregarious halfling communities they live adjacent to. There's still a lot of bad blood between dwarves and elves regarding gnomes, with a common theme that "dwarves can smell them and elves spot them in a crowd" sort of prejudice, but they get along fairly well with most other races, if in a mischievous way.
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
Gnomes aren't the silly stereotyped joke race that most games portray them as. Their fae heritage is well known, and gnomes have a reputation as somewhat untrustworthy, sly, potentially dangerous tricksters. Their mastery of both magic and science is looked at with suspicion and many folks find it disturbing.

One of the most feared mercenary companies in the world are the Hell Badgers, a company of gnomish sappers and siege engineers... Rumors of them showing up on the battlefield have turned the tide of more than one battle. And rumors and reputation are two of the Hell Badgers' greatest weapons, since they have quite a number of illusionists and warlocks amongst their numbers who can help conceal their presence until they want it made known.
Quite often the first time anyone actually sees them during a siege is when the courtyard of the enemy's castle erupts in an explosion of dirt and stone tiles as the Hell Badgers come charging forth out of the gaping hole screaming like the dire badgers that fight with them, tossing incendiaries and destructive magic everywhere.
 

delericho

Legend
IMC gnomes are goblins, and vice versa. Both sides deny it, but it's true nonetheless.

In terms of niche, like elves, gnomes came from the Feywild back in their prehistory. But where elves have an affinity with trees - tall, straight, and mighty, gnomes are much more associated with fungi and the other, more mutable, life of the forest.
 


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