Gnomes have the same basic features as described in the PHB. They are skilled gemcutters, illusionists, and mechanics. That being said, their culture differs quite a bit:
Gnomes come in three varieties:
- Tribal Gnomes
- Village Gnomes (also called dependent gnomes)
- Remnants (also known as Loners)
Tribal Gnomes live in the forests and are in attitude very similar to Faeries. They spend their time growing up as children of the forests, and their time as adults casting pranks and tricking the tall folk who pass through their woods. They design both elaborate traps and illusions to do this, and spend the vast majority of their time not spent hunting working out more elaborate methods to this end. That being said, a trap is only interesting if someone falls into it, and Gnomes are notorious for leaving their traps behind only days after making it because no one passes through that area of their wood.
Tribal Gnomes don’t form large communities. They simply cannot build maintainable food sources because no one is willing to farm; their perpetual aloofness and lack of maturity prevents it. Frequently the best they manage are groups of three or four for a particularly good joke, and the children that come are frequently seen as a burden to be dragged about (that is not to say this is always the case, but frequently). Those who have loving parents usually become remnants who live in cities or become adventurers.
Village gnomes live in conjunction with some other responsible race who takes care of the menial tasks of daily life. The most common pairing is of Gnomes and Halflings, where the halflings’ established community is complemented by a community of gnomes who works on keeping the village hidden from intruders using complex illusions, traps, and mechanisms to defend the town. A good complement of Gnomish mechanists has been known to take out armies of hobgoblins with bizarre steamrolling mechanisms and catapults loaded with disorienting illusion capsules.
The peace held between the two races is normally relatively easy. Gnomes and halflings have similar dispositions, even when a series of pranks can quickly get on halfling nerves. Both races have similar distrust of taller folk, and both have formed a good sense of community. Though their fields seldom cross, the children get along well enough, and both find each other endlessly interesting.
The largest of these Gnome-Halfling communities lived in Annastal before it was conquered by the forces of Claustrum. It is believed that some of these communities escaped notice and fled the country, but it is unknown where they may have made it to, and in what state.
Aside from Gnome-Halfling pairings, there is at least one known colony of Gnomes and Dwarves, though the two don’t exactly integrate. It’s more of a pairing of mutual accomplishment. The Gnomes live on the outer edge of the mountain, and cut gems for the dwarves deeper in the cave, and the dwarves provide coal and steel for the gnomes continual experiments. The Gnomes in this community are known for being particularly eccentric, fueled by community successes in providing similarly eccentric clients with eccentric products.
There are a few communities of Gnomes inside of human city walls, but they have yet to form the kind of mutual bond that the Gnomes have made with other races. Gnomes who live and work in human, elven, and centaur cities and communities are known as remnants. This is because usually, they work free of other Gnomes and are better known in the community by those of other races. Occasionally you’ll see a pair who’ve opened up a mechanic’s workshop together, or perhaps a prank shop, but almost all auxiliary staff will be of the dominant race in the area. It is unknown what spurs these offshoots from the Gnomish community at large, but frequently those who are of tribal gnomes, who’s parents were happy to have them, find themselves unsuited for tribal living, and go in search of community elsewhere.