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Gnome for the Holidays

Rutaq of the Broken Skull

Rutaq's Verdict: "Dem litul guys got de hook-up on da majicks!"

Since I am a creature of spontaneity rather than habit, I figured I would add my thoughts on the little fellows since Trent Oster seems to be such a fan and because of the recent issue of Dragon that extolled the benefits of playing a Gnome character.

Since the dawn of time (which coincided with my entre to gaming), gnomes have always been portrayed as diminutive troublemakers who were all chaotic at heart. While that might stereotype a great deal of the culture, I think there are a ton of other options for the little guys. Third Edition has given us a great deal of the room for the mighty midgets, culminating in gnomish druids, mages of all types, fighters, clerics, monks, rogues, paladins, and so on. Thus, we can put together a coherent gnome community that's not based on a town full of rogues or illusionists.

For those of you seeking power characters, might I suggest a healthy helping of steaming, charged gnome? The standard gnome has minor magical powers at first level in addition to a boost in constitution - something halflings go to bed crying about nightly, despite how nimbly they hop into their bunk beds - and can use these benefits to aid in just about whatever class path they choose to take. Wanna be a fighter? Use the Ghost Sound ability to distract while you kneecap your enemies. Wanna be a mage? Add three cantrips to your magical arsenal. Cleric? Use these minor powers in addition to your orisons to awe the faithful and faithless alike.

You also now have a ton of gnome variants at your disposal - rock gnomes, forest gnomes, river gnomes, deep gnomes, arcane gnomes - and you could easily adopt several other variants into your system. Personally, Rutaq prefers squashed gnomes, flattened gnomes, gnome au gratin, skewered gnomes…I think you get the picture. The reason I point this out is that you can now not only play one of the little suckers, you can tailor them to your specific campaign, giving you or your players a nice platform from which to construct a rich roleplaying persona apart from the traditional miscreant archetype.

Gnomes do still shine best in the area of magic, however. With additional feats, such as the Magically Inclined feat from the latest Dragon magazine or the Spellcasting Prodigy feat from Forgotten realms added to the arcane gnome race variant, you have a high-intelligence, high bonus spell gnome with added constitution bonuses and an AC bonus. With creative use of certain spells, such as Expeditious Retreat, Reduce and Fly, you have a dangerous spellcaster who can remain out of harm's way a great deal of the time. Further, since Alchemy is a class skill for mages, gnomes can apply their bonus in Alchemy to that and add even more offensive and defensive versatility to the package.

Mostly, though, I hope to see gnomes assuming more key roles in campaigns as leaders and heroes that come from something other than the local-rogue-makes-good background we have seen so often. I, for one, am looking forward to gnome blackguards, if for nothing else but the laugh value.

Happy Gnoming.

Thanks to the great guys over at Black Orc for Rutaq's orc logo. Visit them at

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