The Gnomes Pantheon is filled with creative Deities.
General Description - Because gnomes have a homogeneous racial makeup they use the same ranking descriptions through out the world for priests of their gods. This also applies to all active worshipers among the gnomes. While most are priests, there are some who are illusionists. There is no difference in the title for either, however priests wear blue lozenges and illusionists wear red ones in the heraldry on their vestments and symbols.
Marriage and Divorce - Weddings, perhaps surprisingly, are not big social occasions. Instead, they are private ceremonies attended by the immediate families of the young couple--and even these guests soon depart to leave the newlyweds with a chance to get to know each other privately.
Bride and groom have generally been friends since childhood and have made the match of their own free will. Marriage commonly occurs during the decades immediately following the coming of age period for members of that specific subrace, though gnomes who choose not to wed are not ostracized or even considered odd. Gnomes marry for companionship as much as procreation, and a couple will almost always remain happily married until one or the other of them passes away. Remarriage is rare, although it has been known to occur; divorce is unknown.
Gnomish couples rarely have the numerous broods familiar to halflings and humans. A family with three children is considered large, and only sizable clans will have five or six youngsters dwelling in the warren at any one time. Even in adulthood, gnomes retain deep bonds of friendship with their siblings and parents. It is very common for brothers and sisters to join together in business endeavors, for example.
Death of a Character - Gnomes do not have any tradition of bringing a dead companion back to life.
Ceremonies - All gnomes enjoy festivals. These celebrations typically involve much music, dancing, feasting, storytelling, illusionary magic shows, drinking, and contests of strength and wit. While the actual festival observances vary somewhat by subrace, a given community will generally gather for no less than 12 to 15 big celebrations every year.
These will be for many different occasions, including celebrations of harvests, seasonal occurrences like the solstice and equinox, and anniversaries--of birthdays, famous victories or discoveries, and even weather phenomena. Rock Gnomes have been known to hold celebrations to commemorate the date of a horrendous cyclone that once ravished their realm, the eruption of a volcano, or even a notable blizzard; anything which might serve as a good excuse for a party. The patterns can vary by subrace, since Svirfneblin don't keep track of dates and the Tinkers often forget what year it is, yet gnomes of all types seem to have a communal sense of when a gathering is needed. When the time is right, they'll get together.
The truly major festivals, however, are often years apart. The festival commemorating the total eclipse of the moon, for example, only takes place about once per century. For Rock and Forest Gnomes, this is the most significant occasion of all, and as such it calls for the grandest festival. Svirfneblin reserve similar festivities for the coronation of a new king or queen, while Tinkers celebrate the successful design and completion of an invention--now that's rare! Likewise, a gnome's most significant birthday in most subraces is considered his or her one hundredth.
Another trademark of the gnomish gala is that they go on for a long time--the bigger the occasion, the longer the celebration. Even the smaller festivals are generally two-day affairs, with the first day devoted to preparations (such as rehearsals of performances and cooking the wide variety of food necessary for the feast). The second day, beginning at dawn, is likely to be a sequence of songs and performances, mixed with appropriate rituals and remembrances, and liberally spiced with many opportunities to eat and drink. Ale and wine, together with the music and revelry, flows freely from dawn to dusk and throughout the following night.
The greater festivals last many days or several weeks, with the most significant lasting a full month or more. However long the celebration, the gnomes are generally quite ready to pitch back in to work as soon as the festivities are concluded. In the case of the longer celebrations this is an especially good thing, since a month of extreme partying can pretty much exhaust the food and drink reserves of a community!
Interactions with other Religions -
The demonstration of spell use is the prime requisite to rise in rank. At 5th level Uncles are expected to take on at least one henchman of low level (Sons, Nephews or Brothers) who worship a different god in the gnomish pantheon. This expectation is waived for priests of Urdlen who would find it hard to find anyone who would want to accept such a master.
|Baervan Wildwanderer||Gnomish||Intermediate God|
|Baravar Cloakshadow||Gnomish||Lesser God|
|Callarduran Smoothhands||Svirneblin||Greater God|
|Flandal Steelskin||Gnomish||Intermediate God|
|Gaerdal Ironhand||Gnomish||Lesser God|
|Garl Glittergold||Gnomish||Greater God|
|Segojan Earthcaller||Gnomish||Intermediate God|
The gnomish pantheon is a small one, dominated by Garl Glittergold. Garl is usually believed to have brought the gnomes to life when, exploring a system of pot-holes, sinkwells, and shallow caverns below a complex of limestone hills, he came across a sealed cavern which his magical battle axe Arumdina detected. The axe whispered its discovery to Garl, who stone shaped an entry into the interdicted cavern. Looking around, the god saw the ceiling and walls covered with the brilliance and sparkle of gems unlike anything he had ever seen before. He plucked the gems from the veins of ore which held them, and polished them with his bare hands as he breathed on them (the similarity of this part of the myth with that of the dwarves is obvious, and it is intriguing that both such earthy races equate souls with the element of air and the breath of a god). The gems unfolded in Garl's hands, and tiny forms inside were liberated, to fall gently to the ground and form the first gnomes of the world. In some versions of the myth, a handful of the liberated forms become the svirfnebli, and a very few take flight on a sudden upcurrent of air and fly from the cave, to become the first ancestors of one or other of the minor sylvan races. Often, the first thing which Garl does under these extraordinary circumstances is to tell the first gnomes one of his stock of hilarious jokes. Regrettably, non-gnomes find that these jokes seem to lose a great deal in translation.
Garl has taught the gnomes that they are not a powerful, strong race (like the dwarves) nor a race strong in magic and close to the pulse of life itself (like the elves). Yet, this is no cause for despondency. The taciturn faces of so many dwarves do not suggest that their prowess makes them happy: and the timeless sadness of so many elves faced with a transient world is not something many gnomes would wish for themselves. Rather, Garl has taught his people to value the pleasure of a job well done-and given them skills in smithing and gemcutting which are bettered by no other race. Also, he has taught them the delight and inventiveness of humor, jests, and practical jokes. The basically benign nature of this frippery (as other races see it) is an integral part of the good aliment of the god and his people. To Garl, to trick an enemy even a murderous and treacherous one-is superior to dominance through might and force of arms.
Many versions exist of the tale wherein Garl allows himself to be brought, apparently safely bound and subdued, to the dismal cavern of Kurtulmak?, the kobold god, in the Nine Hells. After enduring highly tedious and repetitious threats and gloats from Kurtulmak?, Garl began a bizarre and ludicrous tale which, despite himself, Kurtulmak found himself listening to (usually because the tale mocks Bahgtru, Gruumshs son, with whom Kurtulmak had had a disagreement, or for some similar reason involving Kurtulmaks hostility to another goblinoid god). Garl's description of Bahgtru's fury at being tricked, and his tantrums of rage, made Kurtulmak fall about laughing-and then he realized Garl was miming Bahgtru's actions. The gnome god had slipped his bonds (indeed, he had only feigned having been wholly bound in the first place). Kurtulmak's realization came too late: for Garl leapt into the air, retrieved Arumdina from a portable hole concealed about him, and sliced through the stone pillars supporting the cavern. Kurtulmak and his entourage were trapped in clouds of billowing stone dust and hemmed in by fallen blocks and boulders. Garl sauntered over, tweaked Kurtulmak's nose, and plane shifted away fast. Kobolds and gnomes have not exactly got on well ever since.
Gnomish deities very frequently have at least one companion with them on their travels-Gar1 Glittergold has his intelligent battle axe, Baervan the forest gnome has Chiktikka the raccoon, Segojan Earthcaller has an intelligent stone golem (although his avatar only creates nonintelligent ones), and other gnomish deities may travel together or in the company of a non-gnome deity of a related sphere. Mythic tales of heroes almost always involve the gnome hero being accompanied for all of a journey by one faithful companion, or receiving significant aid (often in the form of hints and riddles) from a number of well-disposed creatures during it. This reflects the value gnomes place on companionship and sharing with trusted fellow adventurers and travellers, and for those they share living space with (most notably halflings and dwarves).
All of the gnome deities are male, but unlike those of the dwarves there is no sense of machismo about them. They are clever, sensible, and helpful beings, quite unconcerned with their "image" (although several would be alarmed if thought to be boringl). The pantheon as a whole is concerned with the earth, gemcrafting and smithing, protection and guardianship, healing, nature and the world of plants and animals, and with trickery, jesting and fun. Very few ever concern themselves with violence and strife, divination and arcane knowledge, law or chaos.
Unlike most other civilized races, the gnomes do not have a creation myth. Instead, they view the world--and their place in it--as a constant within the flow of time, changing only in small and insignificant ways. In the big picture, they assume that things will remain very much as they always have been. Good and evil, chaos and law, exist in equilibrium, and the preservation of this balancing act is the primary purpose of time.
The gnomish outlook on life requires a very balanced view of the universe. Thus, while gnomes consider themselves and their race to be generally good, the force of evil in the world--and even within the gnomes themselves--cannot be denied. Indeed, only by acknowledging evil, by recognizing it as the counterpoint of goodness, can the balance of all things be maintained.
Like the gnomes themselves and the other gods, Urdlen the Evil One is assumed to have always been there, and to remain for all time to come. Yet only in the steady struggle against the creature and what it represents can the truly happy and vital nature of these people be insured.
Central to the mythology and self awareness of the gnomes is a sense of the race's togetherness--even among the different subraces that make up the whole (see Chapter 2). Indeed, one of Garl Glittergold's main tasks in the world is to intercede in potential gnome-to-gnome conflicts, usually by humor and diversion. It is this awareness that makes conflicts among these folk--whether they be marital arguments, property disputes, disrespectful youth, bitter clan rivalries, or warfare--so extremely rare.
When they do occur, the practicers of violence (on both sides) are likely to face complete ostracism until the conflict is resolved. It is interesting to note that, once resolution is achieved, the gnomes are usually quick to forgive and to welcome transgressors back into the fold. Their patience is not limitless, however, and blatant aggressors or bullies who repeatedly hector others are not likely to be easily forgiven. Fortunately, such malefactors are quite rare.
The task of the gnome, as he or she views his or her place in the world, is a mixture of important work and equally important play. Whatever the nature of the job at hand, a gnome will apply himself or herself to it with great good humor, even carrying his or her joking wit and humorous outlook into the subterranean depths of a mine or down the forest trail.
But it is when the work is done that the true nature of gnomehood becomes apparent. No one could mistake a boisterous gathering of singing, dancing gnomes for a hard-working bunch of dwarves. Indeed, the humor that possesses them comes to the fore in these days of celebration. For example, the festival of the Lunar Eclipse described in this chapter runs until the next full moon. For a full month, the gnomes set their cares and chores aside, using the cosmic occasion as an excuse to gather from far and wide, spending their days and nights in a loud and boisterous celebration of themselves and their role in life.
Priests: All priests of gnome deities (like those of dwarves) have a primary duty to communities, and especially to their defense through vigilance. While hatred of enemies is not a gnomish trait, all gnome priests will encourage a strong antipathy to kobolds.