Gnomes claim to have been born of the earth where it touches the ensorcelled fringes of the realm of the faerie. Unlike dwarves, gnomes’ fey-born heritage allows them to claim kinship with the elves, and the largest gnomish communities border the great forests which are home to the elven kingdoms. While rarely spending a great deal of time in human towns and cities, gnomes are unafraid to do so, particularly to trade. Their diminutive stature and generally congenial demeanor allow them to pass through human lands without attracting a great deal of attention.
Gnomes love secrets. They love to keep them and they love to share them in equal measure. Puzzles, tricks, and traps made to keep or secure secret things are highly prized by gnomes and are their specialty in the creating. There is one secret, however, that gnomes will never share – it is said that in a past Age, the gnomish race uncovered a terrible doom, an unspeakable truth regarding mortals, gods, and the Three Lands so horrific that they buried it in the hills, never to be revealed. At birth, each gnome is said to know or be imparted with a unique bit of this secret known to no other. Something about this terrible knowledge drives gnomes to distraction and mad humor, gives them a sharp edge in their wit and their demeanor that can be frightening. There’s a fire behind the eyes of every gnome that seems equal part whimsy and madness.
Gnomes are master gem cutters and accomplished metalworkers (though not as accomplished as dwarves). Their jewelcraft is unique and sometimes slightly enhanced with illusory enchantments which come naturally to gnomes. Gnomes are also expert vintners, woodworkers, and mazers (mead-makers). They are also known for their clockwork machines just as dwarves are renowned for their machines of war (arbalests, crossbows, ballistas, etc.).
Gnomes are clannish – to insult or injure one gnome is to make an enemy of the entire clan. Gnomish retribution is complex, subtle, and cunningly cruel. Once per decade, honored gnomes from each gnomish clan travel from all over a large region to participate in a gnomish moot, where all matters concerning gnomes are discussed, stories traded, friendships renewed, and alliances rekindled.
There are three broad types of gnomes that exist within the Cunaerai. The forest gnomes are elf-friends and their communities are almost always nestled against the borders of the woodland realms of the elves. They maintain a minimal amount of contact with civilization and are the most subtly cunning when it comes to illusions. Rock gnomes are descended from the ancient gnome kingdom dispersed by the servants of the God who would be King – they are spread throughout the Three Lands and often have small enclaves (or ghettos) in several of the larger cities of the Realm, where they craft gnomish devices: particularly special tools, clocks and pocketwatches, toys, and traps. Deep under the earth are the gray svirfneblin, the deep gnomes, whose stoneworked halls lay on the farther fringes of the deepest Dwarven roads. The melancholy, wary deep gnomes are rarely seen by surface dwellers, but are known and well thought of by the great dwarven kings and queens.
Gnomes begin play automatically speaking the following languages: Elvish, Dwarvish, Seelie/Unseelie, and the Dark Tongue.