Gnomes are a diverse breed, born of humans, elves, dwarves, and other humanoid creatures. Regardless of their parentage, gnomes are universally small, and instantly recognizable by their strange multi-hued eyes and brilliantly colored hair. Greatly feared and much maligned, gnomes are not so much a race as a disease. Most people know of gnomes as degenerate fey creatures. Unable to reproduce on their own, gnomes magically “infect” other humanoids to bear their young. According to the folklore of humans, even seeing or being near a gnome can result in a woman’s offspring being replaced by a gnomish changeling.
Gnomes trace their lineage back to the mysterious realm of the fey. Unknown forces drove the ancient gnomes from that realm long ago, forcing them to seek refuge in this world. Sadly for the gnomes, they were unable to adapt to this world, losing the ability to procreate. In an effort to prolong their race, they have been forced to adopt drastic means in keeping with their alien natures. Today gnomes are scattered far and wide, hiding in the shadows of their adopted cultures, fighting for the survival of their race.
Physical Description: Gnomes look like smaller versions of one of the more common races (humans, elves, dwarves, or even goblins), 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. A gnome’s eyes have swirling rainbow-hued irises, the effect of which is said to be hypnotic if stared at for too long. Despite their fey backgrounds, gnomes age and die at the same rate that their parent race does.
Society & Relations: While gnomes once had a proud society among the fey, they are now largely outcasts wherever they are found. Forced to rely on other races to bear their offspring, gnomes slink about human, elven, or dwarven cities, taking work where they can find it, and avoiding the other races when possible. Because of their unusual births, gnomes are very seldom found together.
Humanoids of all stripes fear and distrust the gnomes for the gnomes’ ability to cause their women to bear gnomish children without the need for copulation. The gnomes, for their part, do all they can to make positive inroads with their neighbors, occasionally convincing a kindhearted woman to agree to be a host for their children. On rare occasions, even an unwilling human or dwarven parent will care for their gnomish offspring as they would one of their own race. There has been at least one report of a human woman having a human, a gnome, and a halfling as children.
Gnomes bear a special dislike for halflings due to the fact that halflings are just as likely to be born from a gnome-infected woman as one impregnated naturally. The addition of the mystery behind halfling births and their growing number has the gnomes greatly fearful for their continued existence.
Among their own kind, gnomes share a kind of racial memory. Regardless of their progenitor race, all gnomes quickly grow to become aware of the plight of their race and their melancholy past.
Alignment and Religion: Gnomes are impulsive, with sometimes inscrutable motives and equally confusing methods. They are prone to powerful fits of emotion, and find themselves most at peace within the natural world. Because of their inbred desire to prolong their species and willingness to force others into carrying that out for them, most gnomes are neutral at best, with many leaning towards chaos or evil.
With the fear of extinction looming over their heads and the loss of their culture, a very great many gnomes are drawn to the worship of the Nowhere Man.
Adventurers: Disconnected from the cultures they grow up in, gnomes are prone to wander. Many feel themselves to be on life-long quests to save their kind, spend decades searching the world for the perfect hosts.