Roleplaying Resources

Gnomes on Isla Oro

Author: Eli

Out of the 300,000 or so residents of Isla Oro, around 6,000 of them are gnomes, about 2%. They tend toward the middle class, though they often live in more expensive areas, many Gnomes sharing a single house and combining their income.

Gnomes on Isla Oro, like most Gnomes, delight in all manner of things, so they can be found in many jobs that a Human might describe as dull. They particularly enjoy any job that involves paper, from the production of paper to scribing and clerking, to printing, and they are responsible for almost all paper production on the island. Fully 10% of the island cotton imports go towards paper-making.

Appearance

Adult Gnomes range from just under three feet to just over four feet tall, and weigh from 35 to 45 pounds, appearing slightly rotund by Human standards. They have large noses, bright eyes, and white hair, which is exhibited in a vast variety of styles, with points and individual curls featuring prominently on both head and face. Both males and females are able to grow facial hair, though they may choose not to (the length of hair grown being a conscious choice among Gnomes). In Human lands, females usually do not grow facial hair, so as to avoid confusing their uptight neighbors.

Gnomes wear brightly colored clothing, and prefer point or curl-toed shoes. They rarely expose their skin, other than hands and face.

Names

Never make fun of a gnome’s name. They may sound ridiculous to Humans, but they always have a rich history behind them. Extended Gnome families spend weeks together, debating every syllable and intonation, every pitch and the duration of every letter, usually before the child is even conceived, because it would be disgraceful to be born without a fully explained name. And never ask a gnome to explain a name. It’s rude.

Gnome family names are a combination of their middle initials (which do not stand for anything, and, while usually letters, can be numbers, symbols or even complex drawings), and the last couple syllables of their last name. Gnomelets are always named after the family they are born into, regardless of their parents’ names.

“The Gnome” is part of every Gnome’s name, to distinguish them from those who are not gnomes.

For example, the B. Swilli family might include names such as Swizzleswit B. Swizswilli the Gnome or Piddlepie B. Dwitswilli the Gnome.

Family

Gnomes live in family groups, bringing additional Gnomes (or, in rare cases, non-Gnomes) into the family for friendship, romance and to have children, in groups ranging from two to thirteen (a lucky number, though that extreme means that the birth of a child displaces someone else, since fourteen is an unlucky number). In very rare cases, a Gnome family can have thirty-nine members, another lucky number, though this is a tenuous situation which usually results in the family being broken apart before long.

Gnome families are fluid, based on who happens to live with whom. Many Gnomes are not technically in the same family as their parents, siblings or children. This can be very confusing to other races, especially those who find themselves in living situations with a Gnome and inadvertently become family members.

There is no formal marriage between Gnomes; anyone can leave the family at any time, and physical relationships, while discouraged between Gnomes who are biologically related, are pretty open otherwise.

Homes

Gnomes prefer to live on the steppes when possible, because it allows them excavate multiple rooms underground. These rooms have an amorphous shape, with uneven walls, floors and ceilings, and doors cut out at random heights above the floor. Outcroppings of rock are great places to put or hang knick-knacks, and these can be found in every corner. The part of the house above ground contrasts sharply with the part below. It is angular, carefully measured and meticulously laid out, almost a parody of a Human house.

Despite the number of rooms and the number of Gnomes living in those rooms, Gnome houses are actually quite small for the most part, making them uncomfortable for the larger races, and even for Halflings and Dwarves, who prefer to spread out a little.

When a Gnome is forced to live close to sea level, digging underground becomes impossible. Gnomes in these situations often live in small hovels, and spend as little time at home as possible, or they expand as much as they can get away with, squeezing an improbable number of tiny rooms into whatever space they have, sometimes stacking rooms on top of each other at odd angles. Gnomes have to be very down on their luck to live on the beach.

Gender

Gender among Gnomes is usually seen as irrelevant. That that they use the terms male and female at all is mainly to be polite to members of other races. Gnomes below the lucky age of 39 (gnomelets) or above the lucky age of 139 (wrinkleskins) aren’t even thought to have a gender. Many gnomes choose to be genderless at age 52 as well, as that is an unlucky number.

There are some biological differences between Gnomes, however. Female Gnomes are far more likely to become pregnant than males, and males typically have more elaborately groomed facial hair than females, though that is mostly by choice. There is no notable difference in height, weight or physical or mental capabilities.

Lifecycle

Pregnancy

Gnomes gestate anywhere from six months to two years. During this time, the fetus displaces the mother's body without changing her shape or size, so it is impossible to tell whether a Gnome is pregnant by appearance alone. Even gender isn't a clue, since some male Gnomes are able to become pregnant as well. The mother is aware of her pregnancy from the moment of conception, and is able to communicate with the fetus to some extent, allowing her to eat and drink exactly what the fetus needs. While she can choose to reabsorb the fetus at any time, thus aborting the pregnancy, this is rarely done after the first month or so, due to the bond of communication between parent and child. There are rare cases, looked down upon and viewed as a psychological disorder, where a Gnome will desire that communication so much that she will endeavor to remain pregnant at all times, reabsorbing fetuses as necessary.

Delivery is quiet and painless, though the mother is left in a weakened state for a week or two, due to the large empty cavity inside her body.

Infancy

Gnomes start out nearly as helpless as Humans, though they do not cry at all, their senses are sharp, and they are intensely curious about everything they see, wanting to experience things with every sense. Infants mature quickly. They typically speak at around six months, walk at nine months, and can take care of their basic needs from the age of two, so it is unusual, but not unheard of, to see a two-year-old Gnome doing errands for the family.

Gnomelets

From birth through age 38, Gnomes are considered Gnomelets. While not being what a Human would call a child, they aren't expected to have much responsibility, and it would be very strange for one to establish any but a playful relationship with another Gnome.

Gnomes

Beginning at age 39, Gnomes are what other races would call adults. Their beards and hair whiten early in this stage. All ages in this range are equal; Gnomes don't care whether another Gnome is 40 or 100.

Wrinkleskins

At 140, Gnomes become wrinkleskins. Their skin does indeed begin to wrinkle, and it continues to wrinkle more and more for the hundreds of years they have left in their lives. Their libido drops off completely, and they no longer see themselves as gendered.

Wrinkleskins are assumed by other Gnomes to be older, wiser and more skilled. This is sometimes the case.

Old Gnomes

A Gnome lucky enough to reach four or five hundred years becomes an Old Gnome. Old Gnomes slow down over time, sleeping more and more and moving less and less. Periods between activity can grow to years eventually, to the point where they barely even breathe. When this happens, they are treated like furniture, the kind you can have a conversation with occasionally, and since Gnomes erode rather than decay, they can make quite good furniture when posed properly. At some point, they are no longer able to wake up at all, and they have eroded enough that they are unrecognizable. Some of the largest and oldest Gnome homes are furnished entirely by their ancestors.

While Old Gnomes are considered members of the family, they are not counted as such when enumerating family members, or when considering lucky and unlucky numbers.

The Great Old Gnome

There is a legend of a Gnome who has lived over three thousand years, and still wakes from time to time. This Gnome is seen as the wisest of all Gnomes, and is the patron of most Gnome warlocks. During its brief periods of wakefulness, the Great Old Gnome is not to be trifled with. At all other times, it may be freely trifled with.

Numbers

If Gnomes know why some numbers are lucky and some are unlucky, they won’t explain it, but the distinction is very important to them.

Lucky numbers: 13, 39, 139, 191, 369, 699, 1259, 2327, 4285, 7871

Unlucky numbers: 14, 16, 17, 18, 52, 152, 178, 204, 230