Gnomes (called "Gnommi" in their own language Ghassally) are a mysterious race that lives in the hidden recesses of the Old World. Infused by the Grey Wind of Magic, they are natural tricksters and usually live withdrawn from the rest of the Empire.
As far as most of the Empire is concerned, Gnomes are a myth, found only in over-blown Bretonnian romances or Altdorf pfennig-dreadfuls where they frequently appear as magical tricksters. However, there is truth behind the stories, for Gnomes are not only real, but they live in the Empire.[4a]
However, gnomes are notoriously clannish and almost never mix with other races. Most confuse them for Halflings. Because of this, Gnomes seeking unquestioned passage through the Empire often shave any facial hair and wear bulky clothes or padding to hide their far thinner frames. Whilst this would never fool a Halfling, it is usually enough to convince others.[4a]
Since the establishment of the Colleges of Magic, Gnomes have found themselves hounded by the Magisters of the Grey Order and Witch-Hunters. As creatures inherently infused with the Winds of Magic, they have often been deemed a threat. Since that time, the gnome clans have become even more isolated and mistrusting of outsiders.[4b] In the duchies bordering the Mirror Moors and nearby the Midden Marshes, Gnomes are relatively well known as they are often found abroad as entertainers, wandering pedlars, or merchants. Locally, they are known as ‘Moorfolk’, a secretive people with untrusting natures who fish the Midden Marshes. Rumours of Moorfolk practicing forbidden magics are common, which attracts witch hunters to the region in significant numbers, though few find anything more than open moors and the dangerous local fauna, including River Trolls, Fen Worms, and Bog Octopuses.[4c]
Gnomes are organised in clans that have stood for centuries and who organise themselves in hidden settlements called burrows. A Gnome's clan name is inherited from the mother, and never changes, even when a Gnome marries. Many Gnomes, secretive folk such as they are, prefer to keep their clan name secret, and instead offer an epithet as a surname. These names are often descriptive, self-mocking, and sometimes sardonic, such as Mudfoot, Glittereye, Soleheart, or Patchcloak.[4d]
Glimdwarrow is the largest Gnome settlement within the Empire, though rumours claim others lie beneath the Grey Mountains in Reikland, the Middle Mountains in Middenland, and the Kölsa Hills of Talabecland. Glimdwarrow itself lies hidden below the Mirror Moors to the south of Middenland, its burrows and halls cloaked by powerful illusions and vigilantly guarded by the Dwarrow Guard, an elite unit of warrior-wizards. Glimdwarrow once boasted a bustling population of many thousands, but a century ago the Greenskin hordes of Grom the Paunch swept through the Mirror Moors and massacred almost all the Gnomes hiding there. Today, Glimdwarrow’s crumbling chambers are largely empty, and only eight Gnome clans survive. Ruled by troubled Merawidda Frayne, the Ashen Queen, the leaders of the remaining clans openly hate each other, each blaming the others for the horrors Grom's Greenskins unleashed.[4a]
Religion and Culture
Gnomes usually name their children following a traditional pattern. The firstborn is named after the grandmother on the mother’s side or the grandfather on the father’s side. The second born is named after the mother or father. The third is named for the grandmother on the father’s side or the grandfather on the mother’s side. And the fourth, and later, is named after any other relations of importance. However, it is also common to name children after people important to the family, such as local rulers, those who have been of great service, or close friends.[4c]
According to Gnome myth, there were originally 444 great clans of Gnomes. The gods created each clan for a specific purpose, which was secretly imparted to the Great Mother of each clan to pass on to her children. Today, few Gnomes believe such fables, but priests and priestesses continue to repeat the old stories, warning the surviving clans that they should never forget their original purposes. Gnomes believe their gods created the Gnome species in a time of great need, tasking each clan with a specific purpose. Even though most of these legendary tasks are lost to myth, Gnomes typically have a very close relationship with their gods. Most pray before enacting any activities associated with one of their deities, and it is common for Gnomes to make offerings to ensure not to fall into disfavour. In general, no god is placed above any other; although, each clan usually favours one god over the others for traditional reasons.[4d]
- Evawn: The goddess of travel, trade and thievery.
- Ringil: The god of entertainment, trickery and merrymaking.
- Mabyn: The goddess of shadows, revenge and magic.
Short, wiry, with bulbous noses, and large, rounded ears, Gnomes have thick hair, dexterous fingers, and gruff voices that can be surprisingly deep for such diminutive folk.[4a] They can get up to 500 years old.[4d] They are a close-knit, clannish people, putting family and personal loyalty ahead of most other concerns with a stubborn tenacity that can surprise even the most intractable Dwarf. Much as the legends suggest, Gnomes are inherently magical, and share a close relationship with Ulgu, the magical wind of shadows, illusions, and deceit.[4a]
Under witchsight, gnomes are revealed to be permanently shrouded in grey mists. Every gnome, even non-wizards, can channel Ulgu to some extent to hide themselves and objects they have touched.[4c] As a result of the close ties to Ulgu, gnomish wizards find they can only practice the Lore of Shadows or the darker forms of magic in the form of Necromancy or Dhar.[4c] Because of the danger it represents, both from the dark forces they meddle with and in the form of retribution from the Empire, using the darker arts is strictly forbidden.[4c] As a side effect of this connection, the eyes of every gnome turn grey eventually.[4d]
- In older lore, Gnomes were said to have been relatives of the Dwarfs and were much more present within the Empire, being present among the Imperial Court and being famed among the people for their jokes and wits. The race was considered retconned until their reintroduction in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay's 4th Edition.
- 1 Warhammer: Apocrypha Now (1st Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 1a: pp. 60-63
- 2 White Dwarf 86
- 2a: pp. 28-31
- 3 Warhammer Fantasy Battle: Rulebook (3rd Edition)
- 3a: pp. 218-219
- 4 Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights and Hard Days (4th Edition)