Song and Steel
Small, lithe creatures that physically resemble humans, the gnomes are a race of travellers, artists, and tinkerers. They possess large, brightly-colored eyes that dart and dance, surveying their surroundings with an inquisitive spark. Gnomes manifest incredible energy and ambition, and their love for beauty and life is wondrous to behold.
Gnomadic Gnome Homes
At the risk of sounding silly, I would describe their culture as “gnomadic” due to their curious modes of transportation. Each adult has its own fantastical home that its creator travels in. Creating their first home is an important right of passage for young gnomes, and their choice is an incredible display of their own unique personality. Their home contains their workshops, art studios, stores of supplies, libraries, and collections. These agile-minded creatures are true masters of movement and adaptation.
I have personally witnessed gnomes travelling in flying ships held aloft with great balloons, homes carved into the shells of gigantic snails, a segmented wooden castle built upon a massive centipede, submersible vessels of the sea wrought with steel, and one particular gnome was quite insistent that I should allow him to build his home upon my back!
Understandably, gnomes are extremely protective of their homes, and they often employ illusion magics to confuse and elude attackers. Gnomes are usually quick to retreat from a threat if at all possible, and their mobile lifestyle is well suited to avoiding areas they deem dangerous. If retreat is not an option, gnomes usually have defenses built into their homes in the forms of strange contraptions and mechanical contrivances. These machines are truly works of art themselves; gnomes do little without giving much thought to the aesthetics of it.
Occasionally, many gnomes will converge on an area to hold a great festival. Supplies, technologies, and techniques are traded, and stories are told of each gnome’s great adventures. Each displays their home to their peers for judging, and various awards are given out based on many categories. These contests are usually approached with an attitude of good fun and playfulness, but some get quite serious about winning these awards.
Invisible Men in Fluorescent Suits
Gnomes are quite adept at changing the color of their skin, and they shift between dull camouflage and kaleidoscopic color at a moment’s notice. They have also incorporated this ability into their clothing and architecture. When they do not feel threatened, gnomes and their homes glow with pulsing patterns and shifting colors. As soon as a threat is perceived, they seem as if to vanish completely as their camouflage and illusions merge them into their surroundings. I once watched overhead as a drunken human wandered lost through a gnomic festival. It was if a bubble of drab isolation encapsulated him as he stumbled through what appeared to be a run-down section of town; if only he knew he was adrift in a sea of radiant glamour!
Describing the ineffable majesty of a gnome to one who has not seen with their own eyes is best left to master poets, so most accounts of contact with gnomes are considered the fanciful fiction of the insane. Curious but cautious, gnomes usually observe other races without making actual contact. As a result, most believe that gnomes do not exist. That is their own loss. Some races, however, are well aware of the existence of gnomes. The Haari, in particular, make fast friends with gnomes, and the two races are frequently found together.