Posted by: Sean | October 13, 2008

Theme Week Gnome: Look Again

Gnomes are easy to overlook. As I continue to read the World of Warcraft RPG in preparation for a review (it’s taking a bit longer than I”d hoped) I’ve found some good facts about gnomes. Here are some to consider:

  • Unlike the humans and dwarves, gnomes are newcomers to the Alliance – They were discovered by the dwarves two-hundred years ago. Since gnomes live to be about four-hundred, this means you don’t even have to be a very old gnome to remember that.
  • Gnomes had developed battle chickens before the dwarves had developed gunpowder. Think about that. Gnomes aren’t just way ahead of the other races technologically, but they’ve been ahead for a very long time. As such, they simply expect the world to operate on clockwork and steam. Cities like Stormwind and Ironforge they probably find unbearably primitive.
  • Fully half the gnomish race perished in Gnomeregan. Half. Take everyone you know, and flip a coin: Heads, they’re alive, tails, they’re dead. Just try to fathom that.
  • Not every gnome is a tinker. Brann Bronzebeard, dwarvish historian, writes: “Unlike their closest competitors, the goblins, gnomish ingenuity does not hold only to technological prowess. A gnome is always attempting to find the next greatest thing, whether it be a new spell, invention, or even way to eat.” There’s a lot of prospect, therefore, for gnomish philosophers, social theorists, psychologists, or really any branch of research you care to think about. Only one thing seems constant about gnomes: They are thinkers, and are not happy unless they are learning. (Is it any wonder I love the little guys?)
  • Gnomish society is loosely democratic, and has been for about four-hundred years. They’ve not quite hit upon the notion of representative democracy yet, but their leaders are elected. Again, remember that gnomes live for four-hundred years, so only very ancient gnomes would know a time when monarchs ruled their people, but they’re only into the second or third generation of democratic gnomes. None the less, democracy creates vastly different mindsets to authoritarian systems – It is not implausible that a gnome may go up and yell at the High Tinker angrily for a while about some plan, whereas it’s unthinkable that a human would do the same to their king. The rest of the Alliance is probably quite shocked by how cavalier the gnomes are such matters, and think the gnomes are crazy for believing that somehow the leaders serve the people. (They likely think the gnomes have gotten it quite back to front there.)
  • In addition, gnomish society is highly communal. Gnomes tend to be incredibly welcoming, and love just about any excuse for a party. Their homes in Gnomeregan held about twenty gnomes each at any one time, all sharing bathrooms and kitchens. In addition, it is apparently not at all untoward to smell a good dinner from someone else’s house, walk in, and expect to be fed. While I doubt gnomes have no sense of privacy – One gets the feeling that a gnome’s workshop is sacred – but their sense of privacy is vastly different to that of most races.
  • Gnomes tend to see other races as young, and act parentally around them. It’s a nice turnaround on their childlike stature. My personal guess is that this is mostly only true of gnomes who are parents themselves; it’s probably a bit too much to expect of a ‘teenager’ gnome.
  • Finally, gnomes apparently favor the Socratic method when it comes to thinking or inventing. Gnomes definitely prefer to work in pairs, with usually one gnome taking the role of the level-headed, sensible voice of reason, and the other gnome taking on the wild role, defying accepted limits and hurling out suggestions based on pure imagination. This could be a fantastic role-play dynamic. (It also makes me wonder how many gnomish marriages start out this way and never quite end the dynamic.)


  1. One of the quirky fun things that I liked about gnomes was how around the age of thirty they choose a surname. Basically, up to that point that rely on a family name, but around that time they select a name that suits them — assuming that one hasn’t already been given to them by friends and family. Typically it’s something that exemplifies the gnome and his personality or even past exploits. Typically they select something related to technology since that’s a rather large part of gnomish heritage and culture, but this isn’t necessarily true.

    — or so say the roleplaying game book!

    Of course, you can have a lot of fun choosing a name and coming up with the appropriate background or even the opposite! For example, my gnome rogueling is named Tzigane Thistledown — a thoroughly un-gnomish surname and rightfully so for a technophobe!

  2. I can’t BELIEVE I forgot to mention that detail. Gah!

  3. “Gnomes are easy to overlook”

    Hey is that a size joke haha. Well, I say as shown by your quick run down of the pint sized powerhouses of the Alliance, they sure prove that big things come in small packages. 😀

    As for all you said, I think I’ll comment on the working in teams things. I think they do this, because gnomes go one of two ways really. Either with wild abandonment similar to goblins or over analyzing every nook and cranny to the point they work more on the plans of a device than actually making the device(if they end up making the device at all). And by teaming up the two opposites, I think it first ensures that their work gets done in a expedient fashion, as the “rash/crazy” gnome would push the “analytical/sane” gnome to stop planning and start doing. Where as, the team up also ensure that no one gets hurt in their experimentation’s, as the “analytical/sane” gnome make sure the “rash/crazy” gnome doesn’t go over board like the goblins are prone to do or that the project simple doesn’t end in disaster in general. Plus, I think the way both of them think, provides a excellent base for creativity, making more technologically impressive things coming out of the meeting of minds.

    Now if only the goblins learned from the gnomes in this, then maybe there be more of them around lol.

    “I can’t BELIEVE I forgot to mention that detail. Gah!”

    Yes, shame on you! 😉

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