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While it’s well-known that the gnomes of Varisia make their homes in the Sanos forest, few can truthfully say they’ve ever seen an actual gnome community. Whimsical but secretive—despite their seemingly good natures—the gnomes of Varisia rarely speak of their homes. Even when they do, their details rarely weather retellings, leading many to speculate that a great treasure, gateways to the fey court, or some other secret lies hidden within the forest. Regardless of their mysteries, Varisian gnomes share their race’s typical ties to the natural world, and perhaps even a heightened curiosity, as many gnomes seem to sense something vaguely “off,” “strange,” or “old” about the land.
Gnomes are most commonly found it the rural communities around the Sanos Forest. Nybor, Wartle, and Whistledown host the largest populations, with some even traveling as far as Magnimar and Riddleport. While gnomes are sometimes seen in Korvosa or farther north, these rare individuals are typically traders and wanderers from Thom to the east, Brastlewark in Cheliax, or the shey citadels of Irrere.
Standard Racial Special Abilities
Ability Score Racial Abilities: Gnomes are physically weak but surprisingly hardy, and their attitude makes them naturally agreeable. They gain +2 Constitution, +2 Charisma, and –2 Strength.
Type: Gnomes are Humanoid creatures with the gnome subtype.
Size: Gnomes are Small creatures and thus gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
Base Speed: (Slow Speed) Gnomes have a base speed of 20 feet.
Languages: Gnomes begin play speaking Common, Gnome, and Sylvan. Gnomes with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, and Orc. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.
Defense Racial Special Abilities
Defensive Training: Gnomes gain a +4 dodge bonus to AC against monsters of the giant subtype.
Illusion Resistance: Gnomes gain a +2 racial saving throw bonus against illusion spells and effects.
Feat and Skill Racial Special Abilities
Keen Senses: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.
Obsessive: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on a Craft or Profession skill of their choice.
Magical Racial Special Abilities
Gnome Magic: Gnomes add +1 to the DC of any saving throws against illusion spells that they cast. Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation, and speak with animals. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level. The DC for these spells is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the gnome’s Charisma modifier.
Offense Racial Special Abilities
Hatred: Gnomes receive a +1 bonus on attack rolls against humanoid creatures of the reptilian and goblinoid subtypes because of their special training against these hated foes.
Weapon Familiarity: Gnomes treat any weapon with the word “gnome” in its name as a martial weapon.
Senses Racial Special Abilities
Low-Light Vision: Gnomes can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Alternate Gnome Racial Special Abilities
The following alternate racial abilities may be selected in place of one or more of the standard racial abilities above.
- Academician: Some gnomes are more academically inclined than their kin. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +2 bonus on any single Knowledge skill. This racial trait replaces the obsessive racial trait.
- Bond to the Land: Some gnomes have strong ties to specific kinds of terrain, as a holdover from their fey origins. These gnomes gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC when in a specific terrain type selected from the ranger list of favored terrains. This choice is made at character creation, and cannot be changed. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Darkvision: Some gnome strains have lived in the underground depths for so long they have given up on light entirely and gained darkvision with a range of 60 feet. This racial trait replaces low-light vision and keen senses.
- Eternal Hope: Gnomes rarely lose hope and are always confident that even hopeless situations will work out. Gnomes with this racial trait receive a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against fear and despair effects. Once per day, after rolling a 1 on a d20, the gnome may reroll and use the second result. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Explorer: Many gnomes are obsessed with seeing as much of the world as possible, rather than perfecting some specific talent or vocation. These gnomes gain a +2 racial bonus on Climb checks and checks for one Knowledge skill of their choice. This racial trait replaces hatred and obsessive.
- Fell Magic: Gnomes add +1 to the DC of any saving throws against necromancy spells that they cast. Gnomes with Wisdom scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—bleed, chill touch, detect poison, and touch of fatigue. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level. The DC for these spells is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the gnome’s Wisdom modifier. This racial trait replaces gnome magic.
- Gift of Tongues: Gnomes love languages and learning about those they meet. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +1 bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy checks, and they learn one additional language every time they put a rank in the Linguistics skill. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Knack with Poison: Some gnomes have an instinctive understanding of poisons and their uses. Gnomes gain a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against poison and a +2 bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks to make poison. The bonus on Fortitude saving throws against poisons increases to +4 if the gnome accidentally poisons himself when applying or readying the substance. This racial trait replaces illusion resistance and obsessive.
- Magical Linguist: Gnomes study languages in both their mundane and supernatural manifestations. Gnomes with this racial trait add +1 to the DC of spells they cast with the language-dependent descriptor or those that create glyphs, symbols, or other magical writings. They gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against such spells. Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—arcane mark, comprehend languages, message, read magic. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level. This racial trait replaces gnome magic and illusion resistance.
- Master Tinker: Gnomes experiment with all manner of mechanical devices. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +1 bonus on Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) checks. They are treated as proficient with any weapon they have personally crafted. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
- Pyromaniac: Gnomes with this racial trait are treated as one level higher when casting spells with the fire descriptor, using granted powers of the Fire domain, using the bloodline powers of the fire elemental bloodline or the revelations of the oracle’s flame mystery, and determining the damage of alchemist bombs that deal fire damage (this ability does not give gnomes early access to level-based powers; it only affects the powers they could use without this ability). Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, flare, prestidigitation, produce flame. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level; the DCs are Charisma-based. This racial trait replaces gnome magic and illusion resistance.
- Warden of Nature: Gnomes must often protect their homes against unnatural or pestilential infestations. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC against aberrations, oozes, and vermin, and a +1 bonus on attack rolls against them because of their special training. This racial trait replaces defensive training and hatred.
You can combine various alternate racial traits to create gnome subraces or variant races, such as the following.
- Dread Gnomes: Moodier, less forgiving, and often crueler than other gnomes, dread gnomes trace their heritage to the darker, more bloodthirsty lines of fey. Though not all dread gnomes are evil, they all find humor in watching others suffer, and have little use for the bright colors and joyful pursuits of their more cheerful cousins. Dread gnomes have the fell magic and knack for poison alternate racial traits.
- Gear Gnomes: Sometimes rather than a single gnome becoming obsessed with a project, whole families of gnomes undertake a project so massive it requires generations of artisans to complete. Such projects often involve complex clockwork devices (or entire clockwork buildings), and those born into families dedicated to lifetimes of work on them are known as gear gnomes. Gear gnomes have the academician and master tinker alternate racial traits.
- Ice Gnomes: These gnomes were born and raised in the frozen lands of the far north or south, and have dealt with freezing deserts, nights that last for weeks, and the horrors that roam the cold terrain.
- Lava Gnomes: Fascinated by the power of magma and living in vast caverns beneath active volcanoes, lava gnomes are considered hot-tempered and dangerously unstable even by other gnomes. Lava gnomes have the darkvision and pyromaniac alternate racial traits.