The final post about my three non-human races. Well, except the ancient wizards, but they're an entirely separate kettle of fish. Other entirely separate kettles of fish include the creatures of the dark world and the aumani. You know what, just forget I even mentioned it.
Gnomes and dwarves have often been considered to be cousins, especially in D&D mythology. I'm not exactly changing this, but it is going in an entirely different direction than it did before. Gnomes were once very close to the dwarves, living in the hills near the mountains where most dwarves live. The ancient wizards changed them, though.
Not physically. That would be really rather boring, I think. The ancient wizards changed their culture. Gnomes were, for a time, the ultimate fanboys and fangirls of the ancient wizards. They were utterly fascinated by the mastery over magic that the wizards had, and they strove to imitate them.
Unfortunately, the gnomes were not as adept at wielding the mystical forces as the ancient wizards. They were, in a sense, all science and no art. They could imitate the methods of the ancient wizards, but they got much lesser results. They needed something they could control completely, rather than nudge in the direction they wanted.
What they really needed was a focus. This brings me to a D&D trope that I really, really like: gnomes as inventors. The fusing of magic and metal allowed the gnomes to control the magic better, but they would never be without their devices. When the great war struck, the gnomes did not fight on the front line, with the dwarves and the elves, but rather they created great war machines. In addition to their machines, the gnomes kept copious records.
When the war was ended, the gnomes directed their attentions to keeping the knowledge safe in the absence of their heroes, the ancient wizards. They built great cities, entirely out of metal, and then they placed them beneath the sea. A century after the great war, the gnomes retreated from the surface world, and disappeared.
Well, not entirely. The gnomes are still down there, awaiting the return of the ancient wizards. In the meantime, they are protecting the knowledge they have, and they are protecting the great city of the ancients, as well as a couple other significant ancient sites. In a campaign dedicated to investigating the ancient wizards, gnomes will make interesting antagonists, as they are responsible for sinking ships that come within a certain distance of such sights. Tales of these sinkings might kick off a campaign, or a story arc.
All of my races, including this one, are going to be re-visited as I go along, but that's certainly a good start, I think. Next time, we'll get right into human lands and politics, as they will be the default PC race for most campaigns.