Reign of Winter
Gnomes are distant relatives of the fey, and their history tells of a time when they lived in the fey’s mysterious realm, a place where colors are brighter, the wildlands wilder, and emotions more primal. Unknown forces drove the ancient gnomes from that realm long ago, forcing them to seek refuge in this world; despite this, the gnomes have never completely abandoned their fey roots or adapted to mortal culture. Though gnomes are no longer truly fey, their fey heritage can be seen in their innate magic powers, their oft-capricious natures, and their outlooks on life and the world.
Gnomes can have the same concerns and motivations as members of other races, but just as often they are driven by passions and desires that non-gnomes see as eccentric at best, and nonsensical at worst. A gnome may risk his life to taste the food at a giant’s table, to reach the bottom of a pit just because it would be the lowest place he’s ever been, or to tell jokes to a dragon—and to the gnome those goals are as worthy as researching a new spell, gaining vast wealth, or putting down a powerful evil force. While such apparently fickle and impulsive acts are not universal among gnomes, they are common enough for the race as a whole to have earned a reputation for being impetuous and at least a little mad.
In many ways, it is gnomes’ strong connection to a wide range of apparently unconnected ideas that makes it difficult for other races to build relationships with them. Gnome humor, for example, is often focused on physical pranks, nonsensical rhyming nicknames, and efforts to convince others of outrageous lies that strain all credibility. Gnomes find such efforts hysterically funny, but their pranks often come across as malicious or senseless to other races, while gnomes in turn tend to think of the taller races as dull and lumbering giants. Gnomes get along reasonably well with halflings and humans, who at least have some traditions of bizarre, gnome-like humor.
Gnomes generally feel dwarves and half-orcs need to lighten up, and attempt to bring levity into their lives with tricks, jokes, and outrageous tales the more dour races simply cannot see the sense of. Gnomes respect elves, but often grow frustrated with the slow pace at which members of the long-lived race make decisions. To gnomes, action is always better than inaction, and many gnomes carry several highly involved projects with them at all times to keep themselves entertained during rest periods.
Gnomes’ propensity for wanderlust, deep curiosity, and desire to master odd or esoteric skills and languages make them natural adventurers. They often become wanderers to experience new aspects of life, for nothing is as novel as the uncounted dangers facing adventurers. Many gnomes see adventuring as the only worthwhile purpose in life, and seek out adventures for no other motive than to experience them. Other gnomes desire to find some lost lore or material that has ties to their chosen vocation and believe only dragon hoards and ancient ruins can contain the lore they need, which can result in gnomes who think of themselves as bakers or weavers being just as accomplished adventurers as those who declare themselves to be mages or scouts.