Gnomes

Origins

Gnomes are a recent addition to Jorden-Maa, arriving at what they guess was 1500 years ago or thereabouts (gnomes were not quite cognizant of the concept of time in the early days.) They originated in the Faemist Forest, absconding from Mag Mell through the World Tree. A race of underground fey, the gnomes lived out of sight and out of mind for milennia from most of the larger threats, thriving in the underfoot realm they called the Underwild— caverns and tunnels that lie relatively shallow compared to the Feydark, often running up through tree hollows and walls of underbrush. In the Underwild, they could live like rabbits in their warrens, relatively safe and joyful. That is, until the dread Fomorians emerged from the darkest depths of the Feydark. Soon they found themselves being hunted, pillaged, and enslaved, and ill-equipped to make a stand. Though fierce, armed for combat, and having previous experience with the odd fomorian here and there, it had been ages since the gnomes fought a true war, especially against creatures at least four times their size. The fomorians had never been so organized and industrious before.

Following the lead of Lother Lamtuck, a group of gnomes escaped the grasp of the Fomorians and their cruel ways, fleeing to hide beneath the roots of the World Tree. When it seemed they reached the end of the road with Fomorians hot on their trail, Lother stood his ground. With unimaginable rage and bravery, he dug his feet and screamed a fierce cry, readying his knife to fight to the death. But as soon as he let loose his battlecry, roots burst forth into the tunnels, skewering Fomorians and walling off the gnomes from their assailants. Above the gnomes, the ceiling opened to reveal a blinding blue light that pulled at them like a black hole. They fought to avoid being sucked in, but Lother never hesitated— he shouted for his comrades to follow and jumped in. Those who followed suddenly found themselves in a vast forest not unlike Mag Mell. After regaining their senses, Lother led the gnomes south, far from the Tree— just in case. They settled in what is now Lother’s Landing, and became residents of Jorden-Maa.
The unfortunate souls who remained in Mag Mell have become twisted and corrupted by their Fomorian overlords, becoming spriggans.

Culture

Their moral boundaries are often very loosely defined (if defined at all) and can seem very child-like or alien in their approach to the world. This doesn’t mean that they ARE child-like (i.e. completely unaware of social stigmas and awkwardness), but rather that they often find a certain fascination in absolutely anything as if seeing it for the first time, even if they’ve seen it a hundred times, and even if it seems particularly gruesome, overwhelming, or incomprehensible for others. This leads to an exponentially rewarding appreciation for all levels of exploration, whether it be literal, personal, spiritual, or artistic. In other words, from outward appearances, gnomes typically seem to have a magnificently large zest for life, though it may manifest in different ways.


Subcultures

Amberbold—

Amberbold gnomes are those who stayed in the Faemist Forest, and are the most common type of gnome encountered by outsiders. They live alongside nature, maintaining a strong link to their Mag Mell ways. They, as a culture, are carefree and artistic, taking pleasure in the eccentricities of their new world. They also tend to be mischievous and aloof— in otherwords, very fae-like.

They maintain history through oral traditions and visual arts— writing is used primarily for poetry, prose, and arcane arts. While this leads to an often skewed and exaggerated history, they like it that way. Why not add more beauty and wonder to the feats of their forebears? They can only hope someone will make them seem just as fantastic in the future.

Amberbolds have a strong favoring for the performng arts. Bombastic and fantastic storytelling is a favorite cultural pastime for Amberbolds— a popular theatre spectacle is a form of story gossip game, where well-spoken bards switch off telling the same story, upping the ante by altering and exaggerating details and swapping plot twists each time around, until the original story is barely recognizable. The most-lauded forms of this game involving starting the night with a well-known myth or legend, and then by the end turning it into an entirely different legend, one nobody could’ve seen coming.

The Amberbolds often send out scouts and explorers to bring back fanciful new wonders from all around the world, as Amberbold gnomes, and indeed gnomes in general, love nothing more than the new and the wondrous.

Diamondwell—

Diamondwell gnomes were originally a group of mining colonists and prospectors, back when the gnomes were just establishing a foothold in the world, seeking new resources to mine. The Amberbolds call them the Lost Colony, as they haven’t heard from the Diamondwells since they ventured into the cavernous depths beneath the Skywalls. If only they knew that the Diamondwells, after a harrowing journey that led out to the Sakrak Craglands and back into the northern Skywalls, finally found themselves situated in a resource-rich cavern complex on the eastern cliffsides of the Cordovan Sea. From here, the Diamondwells used the readily available mining resources to build intricate cliffside strongholds, towns and villages weaving in and out of the rockfaces and deep into the mountainsides to reap the treasures of the underworld.

They have tried on numerous occasions to backtrack through the Skywalls and make a connection to their Faemist brethren, but they have been completely unsuccessful. They theorize that they reached the Cordovan Sea through some unknown mystical path, because the Faemist is surely further away than the distance they believe they travelled. They have, however, made contact with dwarves from Clanholm, and sometimes trade with them when travel safety permits. It’s hard to keep open trade routes in the depths beneath the Skywalls.

Diamondwells place great emphasis on the crafted arts— sculpture and jewelcraft especially. Working with precious minerals and exotic stonework is a treat, and those who excel at stonecrafts will find themselves in high esteem. They have a tendency toward materialism, simply due to their cultural mores, and though they share their cousins’ artistic and carefree ways, they seek novelty in their own creations, rather than the wonders that the world at large holds.

Diamondwells do not know common fluently, though they typically learn dwarven, undercommon, and even a little bit of giant from the inhabitants of the Craglands.

Coppersong—

Coppersong gnomes were the first seafaring gnomes, a spritely young crew that quickly cut west in the days of Lother’s first settlement. They discovered the pirate nation of Anderan and joined the quest of a human captain, Captain Cadric Ancedius Telbrunner, for distant new lands and the fabled city of Dalunia. Unfortunately, this captain was mostly full of bluster and they all wound up lost on the high seas, which was probably the reason the only crew he could recruit were a wayward group of gnomes who didn’t know any better and a dim-witted orc first mate. Eventually, they were swept up in a vicious storm and thrown onto a deserted coastal island at the edge of a great craggy expanse.

Through ingenuity and familiarity with being thrust into a new world, the gnomes quickly set up a ramshackle residence at the edge of the modest island’s forest, building from the broken remains of their ship. From there, they thoroughly populated the island. The poor captain and his first mate, the orc Hammerfist Hambul, the sole non-gnomes on the crew, did not quite live long enough to appreciate the gnomes’ industrious nation-building, but they lived comfortable and productive lives under the care of the gnomes, and are honored and commemorated in Coppersong lore. They each have their own memorial statues on Coppersong Island.

The craggy expanse that the island was at the foot of turned out to be the Worldsplinter, a massive jagged scar across the surface of Jorden-Maa. The Coppersongs effectively found themselves at the end of the world, a fact that excites them to this day. With the depths of the earth conveniently upturned into a mountainous expanse, this area of the Worldsplinter turned out to be rich in easy-to-reach mineral resources, which perhaps lent to the explosive growth of the Coppersongs’ mining and machinery culture. With clever mixes of magic and technology, the Coppersongs built new ships and fueled new exploration, even managing to build a tentative reconnection with their Faemist brethren. They also hold the distinction of developing the first airships, with which they consistently attempt to cross the Worldsplinter. But the technology is still in its infancy stage, and they have yet to make it across the vast, cloudy expanse beyond their mountainous holds, or indeed, make it very far at all in any direction.

Coppersongs are particularly reclusive. Aside from reconnecting with the Amberbolds, they actively avoid other nations when out to sea, so that outsiders will not learn of their location. The reason for this is likely so that they and they alone will be the first to explore the world beyond the Worldsplinter, and won’t have to share their wealth of resources with other colonies. They’re more capable of following logic and rationality to its end, allowing them to be more aware of consequence than most gnomes. This seems to lend to some sort of universal balance, where as a contrast, they’re also more prone to absent-mindedness.

They place strong value in technological exploration and engineering marvel. They’re much more likely to build an astoundingly complex piece of aesthetic machinery than an efficient and practical one, because to the Coppersongs, what they do is an art, not a science. But sometimes, gnomish eccentricities lend to accidental genius and a truly innovative and revolutionary technology comes into being. Alchemists, artificers, and other scientific pioneering professions are held in high esteem as true artists.
Dancing is also a particularly essential art to the Coppersongs, and is their premiere theatrical entertainment. The Diamondfist Ministry is the only known gnomish monk community, whose members blend dance and martial discipline into a new artform, acting as the elite defenders of Coppersong Island alongside the Gardhald Gadgeteers, a cadre of professional gunslingers.

Coppersongs operate under a much more structured government than other gnomes, led by the Grand Director in an elective monarchy, whose power is kept in check by the Academic Board, a group of leaders from the various disciplinary schools (e.g. the prime minister of the Diamondfist Ministry and the dean emeritus of Peanuckle University.)

Gnomes

Jorden-Maa AstralDusk