The Old Gods Legacy
Beginning to Arrival of the Dragons
The gnomes while clever, were a disorganized race from the beginning. The three different races of gnomes (deep, rock, and forest gnomes) were very separate, much like the Merfolk. They seemed more focused on enjoyment of life, and playing tricks on travelers than any kind of governance. They also had great difficulty adapting to extreme climates. So when The Ancient One divided up the races, she decided to allow the gnomes free will. Maybe they would help guide wary adventurers from danger. Maybe they could find enjoyment in the vast lands that lie empty. But they themselves were surely not strong, or disciplined enough, to organize.
For many years, she was right. After the Merfolk proved a risk to her ancient artifacts, she once again scoured the world for any threat to their power. But the gnomes still appeared to be happy, roving in small packs in land that was safe, and retreating to the Underdark in land that was not. They were more organized than before, but they did not seem to show any interest in pursuing the evil areas she had protected. And for good reason: they were clever enough to know that this extra knowledge was a deathwish.
This was true for most gnomes. Some would risk wandering near the tribes of the races, and for those that made it safely, they found new worlds with new trinkets. They would trade for tools and clever machinations from their own, but they knew better than to trade information. But they remained disorganized. There was a small group of gnomes who saw this occurring, and began accumulating technology from the several races in one place, and started tinkering with it, attempting to design new cleverer machines.
Arrival of Dragons to Present
When the Dragons arrived, however, all the beasts in the lands started moving from their cages. The gnomes, in traditionally safe lands, suddenly found nowhere safe. Trading became more difficult, and more and more gnomes began to retreat to the underdark. When this happened, that small group of intelligent gnomes organized and became the Inventive Negotiators Supporting an International Gnomish Hegemony of Technocrats, or INSIGHT for short. They decided to put their information to use, serving as guides to prospective adventurers of other races. It was dangerous work, but it was the only way the gnomes could both see the land themselves and find their freedom when the other races lay caged.
From 1920 to 1933, they coordinated for the greatest champions of each race to meet by “accident” just to see what would happen when they discovered other races. They had Liekki and Fitz meet first, and the success of this meeting drove them to push the other champions to meet. Their company allowed the gnomes to visit dangerous lands that they otherwise would have avoided, unlocking the power of magics once contained. Over the next 7 years, they gathered power and knowledge, beyond that of any creature of their time before. By 1935, they decided they could strike on their final plan; confront Isra herself and demand the release of the races from their prisons.
In 1940, they got their wish. And with the removal of Isra and the monsters, the gnomes became chief coordinators of trade between the races. The good favor they had gathered, and their skill at spying granted them a great deal of protection and extra work during the dragon and elf wars that followed. And still, their cheerful humility enabled the other races to oversee their true ends.
Now, the gnome’s leadership in information and clever organization has positioned them to be worlds foremost information traders. At major taverns and inns in human, dwarven, and halfling lands, and at city halls in elvish and dragon lands, you will see a gnome, sitting at a desk, administering quests for an administrative fee paid by the quest giver. People have come to trust the gnomes as legitimate enterprises, a gnomish quest rarely is a trap, although death is always a risk. The gnomes also run most spy agencies as well, and have a strong influence on global politics through their INSIGHT leadership, even if they aren’t in charge of any one government.
Gnomes have a diverse view on all of the races. But they are all trained from a young age to be sly and secretive, and in the skills of negotiation. The only the oldest gnomes remember life before the “gods”. They believe strongly in supporting the current gods. Some of the younger gnomes see the strife and continent-wide wars that have come in the past 200 years, and wish to return some of the order, seeing The Ancient One’s ideas as the only one to ensure lasting peace.
Mursku praises duty, power, tactics, and vengeance, and she despises timidity and forgiveness. Kuolemah honors maintaining life for life’s sake, and has a poor sense of right or wrong, viewing only life and un-life. The Fool favors acts of love, fornication, caring for nature, beauty, fine clothes, lightheartness, and despises evil, brooding, and excessive hard work. Fitz praises large weapons, battle prowess, consistency, and trust, despises changing minds, mischief, and mind possession. Liekki praises wit, humor, cleverness, companionship, metals, and wariness, despises solitude and backstabbing. Spies also pray to a mysterious god of shadow, who seems to grant protection.
Deep gnomes have become primarily metalsmiths, working to reshape technologies learned from elvish, dwarven, and human trade, and infiltrators, using their natural ability to hide in the shadows to perform covert espionage. Gnomes prefer to keep this part of their empire hidden, preferably leaving adventurers who discover them with the know knowledge of their existence, or at least, coordination.
Tinker gnomes work on the magical enchantments on the weapon designs. Most magical items, and all high level magical items, are crafted by these gnomes. They are used as barter pieces, trade, and diplomatic tools to ensure their position in the world. These gnomes also loremasters for dungeon-based expeditions.
Forest gnomes are the diplomats, enthralling prospective races with their charming demeanor. They are the ones most races meet. The less skilled among them work the quest giving stations in various lands (working in Dragon lands is considered the greatest punishment).