Help with Athasian Gnomes

Hey everyone. I wonder what peoples thought on pre-Cleansing Wars Athasian gnomes were, specifically their racial stats and abilities?

I plan on introducing a few undead gnomes, victims of Gallard. As the base race I was going to use the 3.5 Rules version of gnomes (but any edition is equally valid for discussion purposes). Does anyone think base D&D gnomes need tweaking for the Green Age (beyond a racial Wild Talent perhaps)? If so, any thoughts on what they would and wouldn’t have compared to ‘baseline gnomes’?


I have what you need. A list of gnome subraces.


Oooh, interesting. I like the idea of the elemental ancestry subraces. Makes me think about bastions of those races deep in the Elemental Planes.

Do you think the established subraces need any tweaking for Green Age Dark Sun?


Kind of in the mindset that the Green Age races weren’t around long enough to have splintered off into subraces.


They were probably Rock Gnomes, but I guess you could use any of the more basic Gnomish subgroups.


I’ve only used the gnomes in a couple sessions, they had been reflavored tinker gnomes from Dragonlance (stat wise) as psionic crafters and magic of any kind automatically made them an outcast.

Similar to dwarves they preferred to live underground, but unlike dwarven halls which often flowed with the earth and started as natural caves that had a form imposed on it, gnomes built the equivalent of densely packed skyscrapers underground. Gnomes only lived in a few places, they didn’t like to travel and only expanded to a new location when the earth around and above them became to unstable from the massive size of the city buildings. Think of a hexigonal building 1500 floors tall (sized for gnomes) and 1000 feet to a side. Then interlock hundreds of those hexes to it looks like a honeycomb. They had massive populations, were xenophobic, and built massive farm buildings to feed their population using psionicly powered lighting systems. They used psionics almost casually, the way humans today use technology and even those gnomes who didn’t pursue the psionic arts used psionic devices widely. Reevt in the Deadlands was one of their largest cities, nearly 12 miles wide and 3 miles deep.

Gnomes that surface dwellers were familiar with were all outcasts, few of which were willing to speak of their own kind or their past. They too tended to prefer cities and often build “gnome towns” within a larger city. Later generations of outcasts tended to be more open to interaction with other races, but still did not like to discuss themselves and had little knowledge of their greater race.

The concentration of gnomes in only a few places made it easy to cleanse them and left most of them buried deep underground when it was over.


I think the Whisper gnome from Races of Stone could be your base. If you read the description, it could fit with the fact that they have been hunted for years by Gallard.

Races of Stone

Whisper Gnome

Whisper gnomes outwardly resemble common gnomes, but they lack the jovial nature and easy outlook on life that their more common relatives enjoy. Instead, whisper gnomes are creatures of stealth and suspicion. In profession and behavior, they range from dangerous spies to peaceful recluses. Few members of other races can match a whisper gnome’s powers of stealth, and whisper gnome scouts and rangers always stalk any creatures that come within a few miles of their hidden hillside communities.


I also find the tinker gnome to be a nice way to adapt athasian gnomes. For me I view them as a culture of craftspeople. They lived in two ways.
In urban areas they lived near markets, and were prized artisans. Generally anti-social they mixed well with others without ever really belonging. They were the finest cobblers, clockmakers, jewelers, seamstresses, and importantly psionic item creaters. Some of these prized artisans were saved by their masters and made undead. Their skills never to erode. A handful of these artisans still ply their trade deep within the layrinthine dungeons of the sorceror kings. As they are doing what they love forever, they are some of the happiest undead you can meet in Athas.
The larger population lived in underground structures. Not known for diligent hard work it was not uncommon for dwarves to carve the base structure in exchange for high end crafts. Once the skeleton of the structure was complete the Gnomes went about augmenting with their own handicrafts. Specialties like hydraulics, water purification, hydroponics, life shaping, and booby traps were inconsistent from community to community. The secrets passed down in families for generations. Their handicraft can still be found in places some still working, and some like the dams and irrigation systems of Yaramuke are abandoned their secrets unfathomable to even Nibenay’s finest scholars.


Cheers for your help everyone. SeruZmaj, Phil, I admit I’m a complete racist when it comes to Tinker Gnomes. Don’t like them. Never have. Not touching them with a barge pole (I blame the horrors of playing through the Heroes of the Lance DL series). Thanks for the thoughts on the communitys though. I particularly like the idea of underground hive cities (I’m also a Warhammer 40K fan) and being kick ass psionic artificers (I have a Psionic Artificer PC in my current campaign). As you say, concentrating the population made it easier for Gallard in his genocide and buried gnome undead fits in perfectly with an encounter I’ve got - gnomish Fallen (from Terrors of the Dead Lands) trapped underground for 2300 years.

Sébastien, I like the Whisper Gnome idea. It ties in with the idea that the non-human races in DS changed as a result of trying to survive (eg: the elves becoming taller because taller elves run faster and survive better when chased). Consider me sold!


Not to derail this thread, but what extinct races do we have confirmed information about? Lizardmen are in Mind Lords and the pixies are mentioned in the 3e supplement material this site has. Are gnomes mentioned in the 3e material anywhere?

As for my own suggestion I tend to go in one of three directions when using gnomes.

1) Earth Spirits: Basically gnomes are elemental beings that take a large deal of inspiration from svirneblin while also having inherent affinity for the underground. These gnomes are often on the higher end of the tech scale of my settings when I use them. Giving them a limited tremor sense so that other races think they have a magical sense of precognition is a fun approach, an even more potent equivalent to dwarven stone cunning could be warranted, as well as a penalty for when the gnome isn’t touching stone or soil (they would hate sailing, climbing trees, etc.)

2) Fair Folk: Pathfinder covered this approach rather thoroughly, but gnomes are a good way of having a fae critter in your setting if you’re not using elves for that or you want a “wee folk” type of fae race. This sort of gnome is the kind that’s the most magical and are often among the longer lived races of the setting when I use this type of gnome. Considering fae would be remarkably rare in Athas, this is the other angle that’d work easily for dark sun gnomes going extinct. It does however step close towards the lore we have about pixies being forest spirits, but it could still work.

3) Craftsmen: While I think Tinker Gnomes are garbage I have used gnomes as the magical craftsmen of the setting on more than one occasion, particularly if my setting doesn’t allow dwarves to use arcane magic.This is what gnomes were originally for back in old school D&D and there’s ways to fit this schtick in depending on your setting. For Dark Sun this angle is tricky due to arcane magic not being much of a thing (edit: when the gnomes would’ve been around at least). However you could take a page out of the elves’ book and depict gnomes as one of the other races that was taking well to learning preserving and defiling magic. Perhaps they crafted a bunch of fantastical psionic items and once they started dabbling with magic as well they raised enough of a concern among the Champions that they came down hard on the gnomes to make sure no one would rival their supremacy. Imagine ancient gnome ruins with hybrid relics of psionic and magical power…


I mostly went with Tinker gnomes strictly for racial bonuses. While I have a few Dragonlance source books, I never actually played it, and only read a couple of the novels a few decades ago so I don’t know how a tinker gnomes RPs. I liked them for the crafting bonuses, no spell like abilities, no weapon bonuses, and the concept of a guild they joined. Since I worked with them in DS as basically an upscale 1st world country that was unconcerned about the outside world and the hardships/damage they may impose on the outside, seemed like a good set of stats.


When dealing with the lost races, I made:
Gnomes - the craftsmen of the earth, but like craftsmen not really warriors (easy to conquer)
Goblins - the in tune with the earth people. They would stone shape instead of carve, and had extremely natural looking cave fortresses.
Tari (not extinct) - Urban underground areas

I don’t have a good feel for ogres, kobolds, and orcs. Honestly haven’t spent much time with Trolls either would probably go to Rise and Fall for more thoughts. For me pixies are essentially pixies, wemics are wemics.

I really don’t know what to do with kobolds. Never really liked them anyway.

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In fact, races like gnomes where actually TOTALLY OBLITERATED by the Sorcerers Kings, doing that AND, broken the channels to the outer planes (planes where the gods of other worlds like Forgotten Realms, live) and REDIRECT the channels to THEM, are in fact NECCESARY to the process to be a Dragon King, among other terrible things to do, like syphon sun energy until it becomes dark (giving name to the setting)

There is even a Dark Sun novel, Power of One, who talks about a lone wemic FORCED TO LEAVE Athas, before the sorcerer king who kill all others of their race found him

You can use the normal gnomes to show them before the cleanising wars, and normal people of all races, the process to become dark sun twisted all races in the athasian history