Friday, March 5, 2010

The Devil’s in the Details: Gnomes

Those of you who’ve had the opportunity to peruse the early issues of Fight On! are no doubt aware of the excellent three-part series written by Kesher of Sandbox Empire called “The Devil’s in the Details.” For the uninitiated amongst you, the series featured a set of random tables intended for use when a player rolls up a demihuman PC (or when the referee wants to flesh out an NPC). Although some entries on the table were unique to the author’s home campaign world, most were broad enough to be used with any D&D game.

I’m intending on using these tables (with a few substitutions) during character generation this Sunday. Unfortunately, the original series only covered dwarves, elves, and halflings, which wouldn’t be a problem if I was running a by-the-book game. But my campaign world also offers three additional races as player character classes: the gnome, the orc, and the hurg (a “hairy man of the forest” which owes equal debts of gratitude to old episodes of “In Search Of…” and the article “The Wuuky!” by Moritz Mehelm and Frank Ditsche from Fight On! #5). Therefore, I’ve had to come up with three more sets of tables done in the style of the originals.

Below are the tables for gnomes. Like Kesher’s originals, a few entries are unique to my world but they’re mostly suitable for any traditional D&D campaign. I’ve purposely tried to return the gnome to his roots as a woodlands and forested hills resident and not the technological wiz kid he’s since become. Although I have no problem mixing technology with fantasy, I just don’t think the gnome is the way to do it.

d20 Roll (Roll 3 times or pick 3)

Many Gnomes…

1

Have skin the color of walnuts or rich loam.

2

Know all the animals that live near their homes by name.

3

Believe that the mastery of puzzles and riddles is a noble goal in life.

4

Have trouble growing facial hair.

5

Do wear red caps, but of the stocking variety not the pointed kind.

6

Find practical jokes to be the highest form of humor.

7

Know hundreds of different knots.

8

Are fascinated by gemstones.

9

Keep family journals dating back generations.

10

Build their burrows near rivers and lakes, enjoying boating in the warm months.

11

Can create woodworking wonders.

12

Enjoy spirited debates and will only end an argument after it has been sufficiently discussed.

13

Tend to secret gardens in the forests and hills.

14

Share a burrow with their extended family.

15

Despise trolls and trollkin for their enslavement and mistreatment of gnomes.

16

Enjoy bowls as a sport and take matches between villages very seriously.

17

Treat elves as if they were kin, only taller.

18

Look at dwarves as respected father figures and big brothers.

19

Like humans but wish that more of them respected the natural world.

20

Enjoy playing practical jokes on hurgs.

d16 Once

Some Gnomes…

1

Wear wooden shoes as daily footwear.

2

Never speak while above ground, preferring to revel in the sounds of nature.

3

Can detect hidden springs by scent alone.

4

Have a small mammal as a companion.

5

Are envious of dwarven beards and grow wispy chin hairs to compensate.

6

Husband glowworms to light their burrows.

7

Can speak the language of badgers and hedgehogs.

8

Have a fear of heights.

9

Succumb to the lure of Chaos and dwell in the deep places of hill and hollow.

10

Have a fondness for halfling pipeweed.

11

Pan for gold and gems as a hobby.

12

Attract butterflies when walking about the woods.

13

Take up portraiture and painting landscapes.

14

Have metallic-colored hair, with silver and copper being the most common of these hues.

15

Dedicate their lives to find a single, perfect gemstone.

16

Are constantly dirty, as they find earth, leaves, and flowers to be the finest smells in the world.

d16 (1d3 times)

Common Traveling Gear

1

A red stocking cap.

2

A hedgehog companion.

3

A saw-back dagger.

4

A knife-handled walking stick.

5

A brass lantern inscribed with intricate designs and holding numerous glowworms.

6

A parasol.

7

A waterproof poncho of many interior pockets.

8

A coil of rope they can knot in seconds.

9

A jeweler’s loupe.

10

A long-stemmed, clay pipe.

11

A set of paints and brushes.

12

A chapbook on beard fashions throughout the ages.

13

A wooden puzzle box.

14

A case containing carpentry and woodworking tools.

15

A gold prospecting pan.

16

A pair of wooden clogs.

7 comments:

Timeshadows said...

Michael, you just may have cured me of my anti-Gnome bias.
--Very nice! :D

blizack said...

Yep, I might have to include gnomes in my planned Stonehell campaign now.

Barking Alien said...

The first section isn't a random chart of possible elements...its a list of all the elements that make up a Gnome. :)

My Gnomes pretty much cover all of the things on the first chart and some on the second, although not the red stocking caps.

My world's Gnomes have short, pointed hats of varying colors depending on where they live. City dwellers wear red or blue, farmers and rural Gnomes tend to have tan, brown or yellow and forest dwelling Gnomes usually wear some shade of green.

I love Gnomes.

Michael Curtis said...

My own relationship with the gnome was one of indifference. It wasn't until I played a particular gnome of few years ago that I learned to look upon them in a new light.

Rereading Gnomes a month ago after an extremely long absence, lit the fire again and got me to tinker up a Labyrinth Lord class for the little guys. I'm hoping someone chooses to play it in the campaign so I can see how it works.

Dungeonmum said...

Thanks for standing up for the little guy! I love gnomes, my PC does fall into the tech category but I like to think of him as an artisan thief rather than a techno whizz. A great stretch of the concept of gnomishness.

Jay said...

I much prefer gnomes to halflings! Great job!

Daddy Grognard said...

I love gnomes - they're delicious!