This article is intended to show you the reader the flaws in the Gnome in general, but specifically in 5E, and also note all the points that make the Gnome an UN-liked race. It is a race deserving of non existence. But WHY you ask, WHY should I get rid of the Gnome? Who would do such a terrible thing… ME! Let’s delve deeper shall we.
History of the Gnome in D&D
In 1974, the Gnome was first introduced in the original version of the game, and later in 75, in a supplement called Blackmoor. In 1978, when AD&D first appeared on the shelves, it was in the original Monster Manual. Unearthed Arcana in 1985 added the Svirfneblin race as a PC race. Then Dragonlance brought in the “Tinker” Gnome. They were brought in by TSR as an alternative to Dwarves, Elves and Halflings, as another alternate race for players.
The big thing, is in older editions, and this was true to 3rd Ed, the Gnome was there to be the race of short people with Magic, specifically Illusionary magic. In the old systems, Dwarves could not be Mages, only clerics. But now in 5E, anyone can be anything, and the idea of the Gnome, and it’s place in the game world….has vanished like a fart in a fan factory on a windy day with the windows open.
In fact, the Gnome has flipped and flopped as a monster to a character race a couple of times, depending upon the version of the game you are looking at, and what supplements it has. No other race has had this level of treatment, because the rest just became and stayed mainstays of fantasy gaming. But the Gnome does not come from popular culture or from days of old in our own world. Gnomes were known as Fey creatures, in folk lore.
Interestingly, the Gnome was removed from 4th Edition of D&D in the Core books, and later re-added. Even WotC forgot about them, or don’t like them.
Why should it be Banned?
Mainly because players SUCK at RPing them. Let’s go through some of the other races in the PHB (I will limit it to this, because the article will go for miles if I don’t.
Dwarf – While most people for some reason give them a Scottish accent (and usually badly), they are a known quantity. Hard drinking, grouph characterised bearded stumps that swing axes, mine, and forge things of legends for worlds around.
Elf – Longbow and Longsword wielding pointy eared folk, slender, long silken hair, graceful magic infused species with long life spans, and they are aloof from mortl dealings a lot of the time, except for PCs.
Halfling – Short curious folk, known for a childlike innocence in some worlds, and a fondness for cheeses in others, they are great at farming, throwing things, the also save worlds by destroying magical items in volcanoes.
Human – well DUH! They can be anything, and are based on humans…
Dragonborn – Who WOULDN’T want to be part dragon, but this race comes from ancient bloodlines of draconic origins either directly, or through generations, popping out giving the player some cool abilities, and they (some of them) can fly. In some worlds their cousins do wicked things when they are killed, in others they are more like reptilian vampires…
Half-Elf – A mix of Humanity and Elves. Why not, mix the drive, versatility and passion of humanity, with the finesse, beauty and magic properties of an Elf. Makes sense to me…wish I could see int eh dark.
Half-Orc – Well things happen in war right? Sometimes it’s not hostile though, sometimes they get made out of love. Brutish like their Orc parent, strong, healthy, but also capable of more than a normal orc due to the other ancestry it has.
Tiefling – Well now we know what happens when a Succubus is summoned and you forgot the reason for the visit. Or an Incubus. Either way, a demon and a human go on a date… A rce that brings hell with it where ever it goes.
Okay so let’s look at the Gnome:
Gnomes are short people! Oh, you mean like Dwarves and Halflings?
Gnomes are Inquisitive! Oh you mean like Halflings and Humans?
Gnomes are great at mining! Oh you mean like Dwarves and Humans?
Gnomes are great spellcasters! Oh, you mean like EVERY OTHER RACE?
Gnomes can be great <insert any other class here>! Oh, you mean like <insert every other race here>?
And that’s where it ends.
But mainly, and this has to be made clear, it’s because 99% of players have NO FRIKKEN IDEA how to play one, because there is no frame of reference to look for a good gnome race / character.
So, let’s go through and look at some great examples of all the races you could use for inspiration, by race and class.
Dragonborn and Tieflings were made FOR D&D just like the Gnome is So there is (at the moment) no popular reference for them, however there IS reference material in the game on how the dominant races work in making that race. For example, we know how most demons work, dragons too. But these races belong, we know with some information on the non human racial element; how they work Because the nature of dragons and demons is pretty well known, they are easier to play, they have two parents (usually human and either demon or dragon) so knowing how they would work is easier than a Gnome; who has nothing. There just isn’t any reference for players to pick up on to play a Gnome, and so as a result, invariably..they suck at it, and it distorts the narrative of the game story, you as a GM or Player is trying to create.
Now, while these are not the only races, Dragonborn and Tieflings were made FOR D&D, so there is (at the moment) no popular common world reference for them (as portrayed in the game source material), however there IS reference material in the game on how the races belong, how they work, and the nature of dragons and demons is pretty well known. As a result they are easier to play, they have two parents (usually human and either demon or dragon) so knowing how they would work is easier than a Gnome. There just isn’t any reference for players to pick up on to play a Gnome, and so as a result, invariably..they suck at it, and it distorts the narrative of the game story, you as a GM or Player is trying to create.
Is banning the Gnome as a race right for you?
Yes. Just yes.
What about Smirf…smirfvvv…Deep Gnomes?
Weeellll…..as a monster they make a good one to go against, and you can use the whole earth elemental thing, drawing on the power of the earth to grow larger, but not as a PC race.
Is a Gnome just the offspring of a Dwarf and a Halfling?
No, you sick bastard, just NO!
Am I alone in thinking that Gnomes are DONE? NO…
Following are some links, videos et al, where people discuss, present their feelings, or downright just slam the hell out of the Gnome as a PC race.