Gnomes, known as Vdelygma Dur to the Dur and Unaturlig Dvaerg to the Nisse, are a subspecies of Goblinite conceived from a Goblin parent and a Dur parent. They are easily the most downtrodden of the Goblinites; outlawed and slaughtered in Durrish lands, banned from Nisse lands, exploited in Goblin territory and pitied in Human. They are a species barely hanging on thanks to the Accord of the Crimson Ravine. Despite the bleak outlook, Gnomes are one of the heartiest, cleverest, and craftiest of the species in Sha'uru.
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Gnomish history is a fraught affair as they they have been a marginalized people for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Dur view them as abominations, products of either trickery or a debasement of Durish morals. The Dur have always had a strong hatred for Goblins, and to them Gnomes are too close not to be considered goblins as well. There may be something to this, at least from a biological standpoint, as Gnomes are able to consume and gain nourishment from things that other species cannot even stomach (they do not, however, share the Goblin’s ability to gain nourishment from inorganic matter).
In the times prior to the Accord of the Crimson Ravine Gnomes were rarely seen outside of Durish territories. In fact, the only places that openly allowed for their existence in those times were Orcish war camps and Goblin Alchemy labs, where they were little better than slaves. Most Dur will not acknowledge that perhaps it was the Gnomes who sabotaged their Goblin Overlords that helped to secure the decisive victory at the Crimson Ravine during the Orc Wars.
With the work of Maximus-Alexander Silverthorn in the human empire life for Gnomes improved somewhat. For the first time they were able to leave the Durrish lands and attempt to make a life for themselves in the lands of men and the wild places in the world. Once the Goblins were given their freedom and granted sovereign lands, the options for Gnomes improved as well, as they could not work for the Goblins as well (though some Goblin purist still recall the insubordination, at least in their eyes, of the Gnomes at Crimson Ravine). Additionally, though they are still illegal in Durrish lands, the Dur began to focus less and less on hunting them, and small gnomish communities began to take shape in the unseen and unwanted portions of Durrish society, primarily the remote side caverns of the Sunless Roads and the steampipe underbellies of Ouranos floating cities. Some Gnomes even live in the swamps and scrublands that border Durrish and Goblin lands.
Government and Politics
Gnomes take a loose definition to family and thus tend to have, what they refer to as, a huge network of adoptive families as opposed to their own 'society.' Older members tend to guide younger ones through the ins and outs of surviving.
Gnomes use the Kroner system and do not have their own restrictions on trade (though members of other species may refuse trade with Gnomes) but are also adept scavengers. Because they tend to inhabit typically desolate or nearly uninhabitable places, and have many mouths to feed on a small budget, Gnomes have a comestible but peculiar culinary repertoire that is renowned amongst the wealthy and adventurous. A more popular example is a dessert consisting of a sampling of soil and insects cultivated from certain regions of the Durrish Deep Roads mixed with cocoa, and other ingredients. Gnomes were also the first to discover the proper way to preserve and sweeten tiny blue sharks caught off the coastline of Lerna or the deep underground salt lakes beneath the ground.
Gnomes tend to love all kinds of technology and devices with millions of little pieces and fidgety bits for them to take apart. They particularly adore clockwork technology. They are also quite fond of collecting traps, especially ones placed out by Durish hunters seeking to catch Gnomes in the Sunless Roads.
Gnomes tend to be stationary, as there are so few lands they are genuinely safe in. Once they put down roots, those roots tend to grow wildly as they accumulate more and more Gnomes and other Goblinites into their extended family.
Gnomes are aware that the organizations and economies outside of their homes are almost entirely stacked against them. This does not stop them from being accepting of the individuals that comprise of these organizations, it just means they are cautious when involving themselves.
Culture & Traditions
They have no representation at all in Parliament or in the Durrish courts, and as such do not have any such hierarchy politically. They also do not have much in the way of social hierarchy; an important tenant Gnomes are usually taught at a young age is to treat others how they wish to be treated, even if they know their kindness will never be reciprocated.
Most Gnomes live in poverty, only being hired for hard labor or unskilled work. As Gnomes are hardier than other Goblinites, it is not uncommon for them to be targeted by unscrupulous kidnappers that seek to sell them off for illegal scientific experiments. As such they have little use for placing people into specific roles within their communities. Everybody does what they can and they look out for one another.
Gnomes can be split into two stereotypes; some believe that there is so little good in their lives that they will take any reason to celebrate. Those in this mindset are not particularly rambunctious or spirited in their celebrations, such as the Ouranos and Halflings are known for, but they do share food and make merry in their own way. Other Gnomes feel there is so little good in their lives and thus, no reason to celebrate. These Gnomes are prized in a way, as merchants and shopkeepers can schedule them to work during the holidays instead of closing up shop.
Gnomes have a peculiar affinity toward the saying "treat others as you wish to be treated," but also a penchant toward pessimism. They will always do their best to treat those around them well, with the hidden belief that they will most likely get nowhere for it.
Gnomes often teach their adopted children to never enter a home unless first invited, never be the first to take a drink from a new flask or flagon offered for sharing, and never be late to an appointment.
Sinvyn Jackson-Wright was a Gnomish explorer credited with plotting out the vast majority of the Sunless Roads. They were born to a Vrachos mapmaker and a Goblin physician who fell in love and decided to live within the Sunless Roads. Sinvyn used the information taught to them by their parents, their natural curiosity, and a small expedition team to document the more natural created caverns the Vrachos rarely used.
A fairytale amongst Gnomes is the story of a cavern in the Sunless road that disappears and reappears in random places, usually when a Gnome is in dire need of escape from danger, food/water, or a respite. It is often recalled to be a small alcove glimmering with gems and riches enough to nearly blind you. The protagonist in these tales usually stays long enough to recover or avoid danger, takes enough to fill their pockets with the promise of returning later to ransack the rest—only to come back and find not a trace of the niche anywhere.
Dur—Overall, the Dur believe that Gnomes are an abomination and should be scrubbed from existence. The Peace Accords do not apply to Gnomes in Durrish lands and so it is extremely dangerous for Gnomes to travel there, even Gnomes in the employ of others. It is almost universal that the Durrish parent will abandon the child either to the other parent or in the nearest orphanage within days of birth. Around 95% of Gnomes have never met their Durrish parent, 75% of that group have never met either parent. The Vrachos Dur tolerate their continued existence in the Sunless roads only due to the sheer vastness of the Roads and the immense cost it would take to remove them. The Ouranos Dur governments spend thousands of Kroner per year trying to rid their Aethership cities of Gnomish "vermin." The Vuono Dur deal with Gnomish invasion the least, as their cities offer little in the way of places for Gnomes to live in secret. Gnomes typically speak neutrally of Dur to strangers, though in their heart of hearts, they are angry and hurt.
Nisse—Gnomes are not allowed in Nisse-controlled lands and thus do not come into contact with Nisse on a regular basis. Even so, when in contact in neutral lands, the Afsla Nisse find Gnomes to be depressing and often do not stay in contact long. The Vand Nisse find Gnomes disturbing, preferring them off and away from their ships, even going so far as to inflate their prices to discourage Gnomish patronage. The Slagte Nisse bear a dislike similar to that of their kin, but do not go out of their way to do harm, finding Gnomes pitiful and unworthy of their skills.
Humans—The Imperial Humans have a love-hate relationship with Gnomes. On one hand, they generally find Gnomes to be wretched and unclean, hardly deigning to come into contact with one themselves. On the other hand, Imperials are the largest consumers of Gnomish cuisine, next to Gnomes themselves of course. The Tribes of Barlethan feel sympathy for the Gnomes and do often allow them to live and work alongside their families. Sometimes they may even be adopted, though never given beads. The Wayfaring Seekers and Gnomes get along well, the high spirit of the Seekers uplifting the sometimes dour but always kind Gnomes.
Other Goblinites—Gnomes are fully aware that even though they are of the same kind as Halflings and Kobolds, they are somehow treated worse by the other species and sometimes even treated badly by these two as well. The average Gnome would not show, externally, any ill-will toward them. Due to their upbringing, a Gnome would be the first to show kindness to a down and out Kobold or Halfling, even if they had previously been unkind toward the Gnome. Gnomes are outraged by the enslavement of sentient Homunculi.
Goblins—The stereotypical Gnomish kindness does not extend to Goblins.
There are extensive networks of Gnomes living in the underbellies of most Ouranos flying cities. Many were trapped when the Ouranos built these cities and decided to outlaw Gnomes from living there and execute the ones that did not leave quickly enough. Though years have taken some Gnomes due to old age, there is always a steady trickle of young Gnomes who find their way there via an underground railroad of sorts—parents of baby Gnomes who cannot find a way to safely transport them off the aethership will secretly find a willing Gnomish family to take them in.
Gnomes are aware that there is current political debate about whether the Peace Accords that shield them from Durren execution will hold in Antioch. It's been said that some politicians believe the wording of the Accords extend to newly discovered neutral lands, while others argue that the Accords were signed with only the currently settled lands of the time in mind.
Gnomes are also aware of an underground movement to try and secure some lands in Antioch for Goblinites, allowing them representation in the government. Gnomes are the least involved in this crusade, as they fear they will, once again, get the short end of the stick.