Gnomes
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Table of Contents

History

Gnomes are master craftsmen, far more so than any other race. They are short and often bearded, although other than size their bodies are similar to those of the humans. Some believe the Gnomes to be humans who have evolved into smaller beings, as a result of spending generations underground digging in mines, although it is unwise to make such a claim to the face of a Gnome.

Rather than land, the Gnomes favor underground fortresses, linked with cave systems where they ensure a water supply, an air supply and food supply without the requirements that the "surface dwellers" have, such as sunlight or arable land. These fortresses are raised and constantly expanded, as each Gnome must spend at least ten years of his or her life serving the fortress before entering adulthood. Within these vast fortresses, the Gnomes not only go about trying to survive, but they also spend their lives trying to become better craftsmen in various areas, such as metalworking or stonework (as they call those who work with crystals). Living up to 400 years before they perish, their craftsmanship is honed to perfection and armor or weapons crafted by them have no equal amongst the other races. Because of their underground cave systems, they are also ensured a fairly steady supply of crystals.

The Gnome society is a mix of feudalism and democracy, with a Low King at the very top of the hierarchy. The Low King dictates who is to control various fortresses by appointing barons to rule them. Meanwhile, the Low King is himself (or herself) elected through a public vote where all Gnomes of adulthood participate and the Low King sits on the throne until dead.

Given their ability to thrive without access to surface resources, one would imagine that the Gnomes would have been fairly successful at establishing a power base before the Cataclysm. The Gnomes, sadly, have a tendency to get drawn into lengthy wars, not to mention their fortresses that constantly come under attack, particularly from the Greenskin. The reason the Gnomes get involved in such lengthy conflicts is mainly because of the fundamental pillar in Gnome culture: honor. After every battle, each slight to a Gnome's honor is written down and stored in great tomes. These tomes, called Grudgebooks, are held inside the fortresses of the Gnomes and it is the duty of all members of the hold to ensure that the grudges are "cleared", by bringing the offender to "justice". Of course, all conflicts merely add more grudges, and thus the Gnomes are locked by their honor in an ever-increasing spiral of violence and death.

The Gnomes caught somewhat of a break during the Cataclysm, even though practically all of their fortresses were destroyed by shifting earth. The Gnomes themselves were at the time occupied with raids on nearby Goblin settlements and thus above ground. With the loss of their fortresses, so too were their Grudgebooks destroyed. This led to long discussions held by the surviving Gnomes. The fact that the grudges were written down ensured their authenticity. Did this mean that without the books the Gnomes were now honorless? Or was it, as others claimed, that the many small grudges had simply been replaced by the greatest grudge of all – a grudge against those who caused the Cataclysm? Regardless of what the elders argued, the fact is that the Gnomes came away from the Cataclysm relatively unscathed and had time to rebuild a few fortresses before the other races realized their weakness when not defending their keeps. In addition, the Gnomes had by luck managed to save their most important resource of all – the skill of the gnomish smiths and stoneworkers.

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