The War of Night
Not to be underestimated simply because they can be somewhat more eccentric, the gnomes have developed the only reliable black powder weapons in Ustalav. Even the dwarves have not been able to replicate the success the gnomish pistols and muskets. They have also proved to have a penchant for creating unusual devices for both war and everyday use.
The gnomish army is as unusual as the people it represents. They are the only army with an airforce, having designed contraptions they call planes, giving them a measure of superiority over the skies. The planes are two seaters (pilot and bomber) primarily used to drop the large variety of bombs the gnomes have cooked up on the predominantly ground based enemies.
These devices, along with the secret to black powder, are tightly guarded. Gnomes are known for destroying their weapons if they feel they might lose them (either through death or theft) to protect their secrets.
They are however, clever tinkers and many intriguing items can be found if a purchaser were to look hard enough, and the gnomes are a generally happy people, pleased to talk and trade.
The gnome City State is run by a Prime Minister, duly elected every four years, from a cabinet groomed for just such a position. This has led to some challenging periods as the gnome leadership can vary wildly in a very short space of time.
Gnomes are distant relatives of the fey, and their history tells of a time when they lived in the fey’s mysterious realm, a place where colors are brighter, the wildlands wilder, and emotions more primal. Unknown forces drove the ancient gnomes from that realm long ago, forcing them to seek refuge in this world; despite this, the gnomes have never completely abandoned their fey roots or adapted to mortal culture. Though gnomes are no longer truly fey, their fey heritage can be seen in their innate magic powers, their oft-capricious natures, and their outlooks on life and the world.
Gnomes can have the same concerns and motivations as members of other races, but just as often they are driven by passions and desires that non-gnomes see as eccentric at best, and nonsensical at worst. A gnome may risk his life to taste the food at a giant’s table, to reach the bottom of a pit just because it would be the lowest place he’s ever been, or to tell jokes to a dragon—and to the gnome those goals are as worthy as researching a new spell, gaining vast wealth, or putting down a powerful evil force. While such apparently fickle and impulsive acts are not universal among gnomes, they are common enough for the race as a whole to have earned a reputation for being impetuous and at least a little mad.
Combined with their diminutive sizes, vibrant coloration, and lack of concern for the opinions of others, these attitudes have caused gnomes to be widely regarded by the other races as alien and strange. Gnomes, in turn, are often amazed how alike other common, civilized races are. It seems stranger to a gnome that humans and elves share so many similarities than that the gnomes do not. Indeed, gnomes often confound their allies by treating everyone who is not a gnome as part of a single, vast non-gnome collective race.
Gnomes are one of the smallest of the common races, generally standing just over 3 feet in height. Despite their small frames, however, gnomes are extremely resilient, and not as weak as many of their foes assume. Though their diminutive stature reduces their ability to move quickly, gnomes often train to take advantage of their size, especially when fighting foes much larger than themselves.
The coloration of gnomes varies so wildly that many outsiders assume gnomes commonly use dyes and illusions to change their skin and hair tones. While gnomes are certainly not above cosmetic enhancement (and may wish to change their appearance just to see how outlandish they can look), their natural hues truly range over a rainbow of coloration. Their hair tends toward vibrant colors such as the fiery orange of autumn leaves, the verdant green of forests at springtime, or the deep reds and purples of wildflowers in bloom. Similarly, their flesh tones range from earthy browns to floral pinks, and gnomes with black, pastel blue, or even green skin are not unknown. Gnomes’ coloration has little regard for heredity, with the color of a gnome’s parents and other kin having no apparent bearing on the gnome’s appearance.
Gnomes possess highly mutable facial characteristics, and their proportions often don’t match the norm of other humanoid races. Many have overly large mouths and eyes, an effect which can be both disturbing and stunning, depending on the individual. Others may have extremely small features spread over an otherwise blank expanse of face, or may mix shockingly large eyes with a tiny, pursed mouth and a pert button of a nose. Gnomes rarely take pride in or show embarrassment about their features, but members of other races often fixate on a gnome’s most prominent feature and attempt to use it as the focus of insults or endearments.