Forest Gnome

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Note: The Forest Gnome subrace may only be selected by spending a Minor Award!
From Races of Faerûn

Introduction

If deep gnomes are thought by some the black sheep of the gnome family (a title more fittingly reserved for the spriggans), then forest gnomes are the shy cousins. They are so reclusive that many times bigger people have “discovered” them, only to find that the forest gnomes have been living nearby for centuries.Forest gnomes are so quiet and painfully shy that they go to great lengths to avoid contact with others unless there is a great need to break their silence.

Whereas the rock gnomes are friendly and loquacious and the deep gnomes are sullen and reserved, the forest gnomes are practically invisible, the wallflowers of the gnomes. They have a great love for nature, particularly deep and quiet forests far from civilization or even anyone else’s homes. For this reason, many people —including other kinds of gnomes— have never seen a forest gnome.

Most forest gnomes are extremely private, preferring to simply be left alone by other peoples. When among their own kind, they are a bit less reserved. They see themselves as caretakers of the forests in which they live, and about the only way to be sure to trigger a forest gnome attack is to directly harm their beloved forest.

Forest gnomes are the smallest of the gnomes, averaging only 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall. Even the tallest forest gnome is less than 3 feet. They usually weigh around 25 to 30 pounds. Unlike other gnomes, they wear their hair and beards long, often almost to their feet when unbound. The males often trim their beards to a fine point or curl them into hornlike spikes extending to either side of their faces. Their skin is the color of bark, and their eyes are usually brown or blue. Their hair is brown or black, becoming gray or white with age. Forest gnomes can live nearly 400 years on average, although some make it quite a bit further.

Outlook

The vast majority of forest gnomes would simply like to be left alone to enjoy the beauty of their wooded homes. They are not particularly distrustful of people outside their villages, nor do they hate those who treat the woods with respect. However, they just don’t see how such people could have much interest in them and their simple way of life.

Most forest gnomes encountered outside their homes are illusionists, although clerics and druids sometimes show themselves as well at great need. The illusionists help to conceal the gnomes, their homes, and their efforts from the outside world. The clerics and druids take great pains to help maintain the health of the gnomes’ forest home. Most forest gnomes see no reason to ever leave their homes, but sometimes doing so becomes unavoidable. Adventuring forest gnomes may be hunting for a solution to some problem back home or hoping to learn more about the surrounding area so that they can defend their community against threats they would otherwise know nothing about.

Forest Gnomes as Characters

Few forest gnomes take up adventuring professions, instead concentrating on craftsmanship or forestry and becoming experts with the appropriate skills. They enjoy songs of all sorts and a few make good (if shy) bards. Forest gnomes have a reverent nature and do well as clerics or druids, but no forest gnome considers himself a warrior, and gnomes who take classes such as fighter or ranger are almost nonexistent. Due to their small size and stealthy natures, forest gnomes make good rogues, serving as scouts and spies for their isolated communities. Forest gnomes study the arcane arts as their most effective defense against bigger folk who would otherwise overrun them, and many become wizards specialized in the school of Illusion.

Society

Life as a forest gnome is idyllic. They eat only that which they can gather—mostly fruits, nuts, and berries, with the rare bit of meat. Forest gnome communities often number fewer than 100 members and can be as small as a single family. The homes in these hamlets are often carved out of the trunk of a handsome hardwood tree, so skillfully fashioned that most people do not even recognize the living tree as someone’s home; forest gnome druids long ago learned how to create such homes without harming the tree. These homes are often hundreds of feet apart, giving the families plenty of privacy from even each other. The interiors of these places consist of several tiny rooms stacked up atop each other and connected by trapdoors and ladders. Each room is only about 4 feet tall, making visiting uncomfortable for the larger peoples without magical aid. Most of these cylindrical rooms have windows to let in the sun, but these are so cleverly disguised as to make them nearly impossible to find from the outside.

The community normally gathers in underground chambers, usually excavated in the local soil and shored up with stones and beams. Each home in these hamlets is connected to the chamber by a narrow tunnel just wide enough for a full-grown forest gnome to slip through.

Most forest gnomes spend their day tending to the forest and gathering food. A few search for gems underground—they prize emeralds above all else—while others craft jewelry of extraordinary quality. The designs in forest gnome jewelry are filled with themes related to their woodland home: flowers, trees, local animals, and the like.

Forest gnome children are allowed to do as they like. Often they spend their days playing within arm’s reach of their parents, watching how their elders treat the environment in which they live. These children learn how to behave by way of example, and this results in a quiet and near religious reverence for the teeming life of the forests that surround them. Forest gnomes respect their elders, and the eldest member of the community is usually the person in charge of it, regardless of gender. They have little in the way of politics—the patriarch or matriarch simply acts as a wise advisor most of the time. Otherwise, the forest gnomes only act as a group when they have a clear consensus on what course of action they might wish to take.

Outside their homes, forest gnomes are solitary. If two or more are together, they form an insular group, often whispering among themselves at the slightest event. In such cases, the eldest forest gnome present is the nominal leader.

Magic and Lore

Like all gnome wizards, forest gnomes prefer illusions to any other school of magic. These reclusive people prefer to use these spells to conceal the existence of themselves and their homes. If someone does come near, forest gnome illusionists often use other illusions to distract the intruder and draw her away from the forest gnome community. When a forest gnome does have to speak with outsiders, he typically uses illusions to disguise himself as a member of the intruder’s own race, the better to hide his fellow gnomes’ proximity.

Clerics are more important to forest gnomes than any other gnome subrace. These spellcasters use their power to help tend to the forest in which they live. They often offer healing to animals, especially those who have been injured by a hunter’s arrows or traps.

Forest gnomes also make natural druids. Their reclusive manner and their respect for nature fits in well with the druidic traditions. However, few are extroverted enough to join up with a druidic society. Those that do manage often find it well worth the effort, as they then become more effective at preserving their forest home than ever before.

Forest Gnome Equipment

Forest gnomes have no unusual racial equipment, although in their armaments they favor bludgeoning weapons. Having seen axes used on far too many trees, forest gnomes despise these weapons—and sometimes those who use them.

Animals and Pets

Forest gnomes do not keep cattle or pets of any kind. The animals of the forest are their friends, not creatures to be preyed upon or domesticated. They have been known to strike up friendships with all natural creatures of the forest, although they favor those closer to their own size, like foxes, squirrels, and the like.

Deities

Forest gnomes are the most devout of all the gnomes, their reverence for their natural surroundings transferring quite easily to the gods who created it all. Forest gnome priests always lead off every gathering of forest gnomes with a solemn blessing. Often, such a priest is the glue that keeps the distant members of his community connected.

Baervan Wildwanderer is the patron deity of most forest gnomes. As his last name suggests, this god is most comfortable in the remote places the forest gnomes call home. He has personally charged them with the care of their pristine homes, and for this they owe him their undying gratitude. It is a burden they have gladly shouldered. Clerics of Baervan often advise their fellows on the careful husbandry and stewardship over the forest.

The faith of Segojan Earthcaller is also popular among the forest gnomes. Segojan taught them their undying respect for their closest friends, the animals with whom they share their forests. Many forest gnomes warriors wear armor covered with grass and roots to demonstrate their veneration for the Earthcaller.

To forest gnomes, Urdlen represents the great unknown, everything above, around, or even below their forest homes—in other words, the things of which the forest gnomes are most frightened. Still, on a sunny day in the forest, Urdlen and the fears he represents seem far off. The god apparently appreciates the work the forest gnomes do to preserve their homes, because he rarely enters them

Relations with Other Races

It’s not that forest gnomes wouldn’t get along with other races. They simply avoid them so much that they rarely have much of a chance to interact with them at all. When they do meet pleasant and respectful outsiders, forest gnomes can usually rise to the occasion, however shyly. If given a chance, they can be the most steadfast of friends.

Those forest gnomes who have encountered outsiders prefer rock gnomes, elves —particularly wood elves and wild elves— and halflings (especially ghostwise halflings) to all others. This is because these races share the respect that the forest gnomes have for their natural surroundings.

As for the other standard character races, the forest gnomes don’t know or care much about them. However, they have a long-standing hatred for orcs, kobolds, and lizardfolk, based upon the way these races abuse the forest and nature in general.

They are also somewhat suspicious of humans, as human loggers, trappers, and hunters have damaged more than one forest despite the forest gnomes’ best efforts.


Creating New Character on Arelith

Base race

Gnome

+2 Con, -2 Str
Favored class: Wizard
Small Stature
+1 size modifier to attack rolls.
+1 size modifier to AC.
+4 size bonus to hide checks.
Hardiness vs. Illusions: +2 racial bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting spells.
Offensive Training vs. Reptilians: +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against reptilian humanoids.
Offensive Training vs. Goblinoids: +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against goblinoids (goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears).
Defensive Training vs. Giants: +4 dodge bonus to AC against giants.
Skill Affinity (Listen): +2 racial bonus to listen checks.
Skill Affinity (Concentration): +2 racial bonus to concentration checks.
Spell Focus (Illusion): Gnomes add +2 difficulty class to any Illusion spells they cast. This counts as the feat so characters are able to select Greater Spell Focus (Illusion) at first level.
Low-light Vision: Allows them to see better than normal in the dark.

Abilities

Retains all base racial abilities, except the stats change
Bonus language: Animal
Can use the -track command.
Will not leave tracks when they move through transitions

Note that forest gnomes are not granted the Trackless Steps feat.

Classes

Favoured Class: Bard

Favoured are Illusionists for the ability to hide. Often clerics, wizards, or druids. Common are bards and rogues between adventurers.

Alignment

Due to their communal nature and their druidish inclination, forest gnomes may tend to True Neutral and Lawful Neutral.

Appearance

  • Brown skin
  • Blue and green eyes
  • Brown and black hair, whitening with age

Adulthood: 40

Notes