Gnomes are distant relatives of the fey, and their history tells of a time when they lived in the fey's mysterious realm, a place where colors are brighter, the wildlands wilder, and emotions more primal. Unknown forces drove the ancient gnomes from that realm long ago, forcing them to seek refuge in this world; despite this, the gnomes have never completely abandoned their fey roots or adapted to mortal culture. Though gnomes are no longer truly fey, their fey heritage can be seen in their innate magic powers, their oft-capricious natures, and their outlooks on life and the world. Gnomes can have the same concerns and motivations as members of other races, but just as often they are driven by passions and desires that non-gnomes see as eccentric at best, and nonsensical at worst. A gnome may risk his life to taste the food at a giant's table, to reach the bottom of a pit just because it would be the lowest place he's ever been, or to tell jokes to a dragon, and to the gnome those goals are as worthy as researching a new spell, gaining vast wealth, or putting down a powerful evil force. While such apparently fickle and impulsive acts are not universal among gnomes, they are common enough for the race as a whole to have earned a reputation for being impetuous and at least a little mad. Combined with their diminutive sizes, vibrant coloration, and lack of concern for the opinions of others, these attitudes have caused gnomes to be widely regarded by the other races as alien and strange. Gnomes, in turn, are often amazed how alike other common, civilized races are. It seems stranger to a gnome that humans and elves share so many similarities that the gnomes do not. Indeed, gnomes often confound their allies by treating everyone who is not a gnome as part of a single, vast non-gnome collective race.
Even the most skilled of human magic users consider gnomes to be very adept magicians. Gnomes have a knack for cunning far beyond that of other races and and their natural curiosity and willingness to take risks make for adept magic users, sometimes with surprising results. Gnomes have also learned to handle even the most complicated weapons and tools quickly and easily. Deep gnomes have inherited a fey trait that allows them to radiate an aura of non-detection at all times, preventing their locations from being easily discovered by other mortal denizens of Tristeza.
Gnomes have difficulty interacting with the other races, on both emotional and physical levels. In many ways the very fact other races see gnomes as odd is itself the thing gnomes find most odd about other races, and this leads to a strong lack of common ground upon which understanding and relationships can be built. When two gnomes encounter one another, they generally assume some mutually beneficial arrangement can be reached, no matter how different their beliefs and traditions may be. Even if this turns out not to be the case, the gnomes continue to look for commonalities in their dealings with each other. The inability or unwillingness of members of other races to make the same effort when dealing with gnomes is both frustrating and confusing to most gnomes. In many ways, it is gnomes' strong connection to a wide range of apparently unconnected ideas that makes it difficult for other races to build relationships with them. Gnome humor, for example, is often focused on physical pranks, nonsensical rhyming nicknames, and efforts to convince others of outrageous lies that strain all credibility. Gnomes find such efforts hysterically funny, but their pranks often come across as malicious or senseless to other races, while gnomes in turn tend to think of the taller races as dull and lumbering giants. Gnomes get along reasonably well with halflings and humans, who at least have some traditions of bizarre, gnome-like humor. Gnomes generally feel dwarves and half-orcs need to lighten up, and attempt to bring levity into their lives with tricks, jokes, and outrageous tales the more dour races simply cannot see the sense of. Gnomes respect elves, but often grow frustrated with the slow pace at which members of the long-lived race make decisions. To gnomes, action is always better than inaction, and many gnomes carry several highly involved projects with them at all times to keep themselves entertained during rest periods.
Gifted with intellect and dexterous talents, gnomes make excellent magic users. They are a bit weak and frail for melee combat, but are extremely ferocious and skillful when required. Gnomes are unable or unwilling to carry large loads, but do require nourishment similar to other races. They also rebound from mental exertions much more quickly than other races.