In the previous post about Mystara Gnomes for D&D 5e, we spoke about the different subraces of Gnomes to use in a D&D 5e campaign, set in Mystara: so you should definitely take a look there if didn’t already, to understand the differences!
Here we will speak about the specific D&D 5e rules to play proper Mystaran Gnome characters, changing the basic rules a bit, when they are inadequate, or adding something new when they are lacking (especially in future posts, e.g. about the technology). This post and the next ones, can even be useful for Gnomes of other D&D settings, not so near to the D&D 5e rules, e.g. Dragonlance Gnomes and technology rules. We use the same sources  of our previous post.
The Forest Gnomes in PH are almost completely in line with Marco Dalmonte’s work and our ideas.The Rock Gnomes are almost the classical Gnomes of Mystara (Earth or Hill, as you want to call them; I prefer Earth, in line with PC2 – Top Ballista, TB later, and others). We have the task to create the three other sub-races for D&D 5e. From the previous post, the only suitable Gnomes to play in Brun are, probably, only Earth, Forest and Skygnomes.
In this table the traits of the subraces (also see PH pag. 36-37).
We added/modified some of the special abilities in TB for Earth/Sky Gnomes and we applied them to the other sub-races too, with care about balance and coherence.
The subraces have other, very peculiar, traits, Resistance to the Element, Call Upon the Element and Kinship to the Element, as detailed in the following tables.
1) Resistance to the Element
The Gnomes are created to easily adapt to the environment and become more resistant to it, but they also become less resistant to the opposite environments. So they do some Saving Throws with Advantage/Disadvantage depending on their sub-race.
- The ST are vs powers/attacks of Elemental creatures/spells;
- DM choice: there may be other suitable cases, like catching a handhold when falling (Skygnomes), avoiding at the last time a landslide/avalanche (Earth/Ice gnomes), find the quickest way out of a burning building (Fire) and so on.
Natural Threats are many things: cobra poison, druidic spells, fairy charm, attack/powers/spells due to natural creatures or very close to Nature… Unnatural Threats are undead, demons and similar creatures/powers very far from Nature (DM choice: even a big crowded town can be unnatural for a Forest Gnome).
2) Call Upon the Element
The Gnomes are creatures of magic and in case of danger they can call upon their surroundings, if it is similar to their preferred living place. This effect do not depend upon the level, nor if the Gnome is a spellcaster: it can be created only 1 time per week, as a bonus action without expending a spell slot.
Example: with Call Upon Fire, a Fire Gnome can summon a Wall of Fire (with the usual stats), if he is near a building in flames. He only needs to use a bonus action but for the next week he is unable to do it anymore.
Note for Forest Gnomes: since they spent much more time in aligning with their surroundings (they are not distracted by “dangerous technologies”), they have bigger permanent powers. They can cast 1 Barkskin spell per long rest even if not in a forest.
Note: this ability is improved near their communities and Relics of Power, giving the possibility to gnomes to collaborate in creating Walls and even to summon creatures native of the environment. We will describe these phenomena in future posts.
3) Kinship to the Element
The Gnomes are very comfortable in their own environment and have several Advantages.
- on inventions using their favored element or bound to it;
- to use mounts native to the element: e.g. for an Earth Gnome all kind of land-bound or burrowing vehicle or, for a Skygnome, riding a Pegataur;
- about Lore to understand the workings of the element, to predict its normal behavior and also to detect if magic is used to influence the environment (e.g. predict the time of an eruption for a Fire Gnome; detect magic enhancing/depressing the vegetable growth or simple pollution for a Forest Gnome);
- other tests (DM choice)
Example 1. Kinship to Air: the Skygnomes have Advantage when they use flying inventions (planes, balloons, gliders, bumber chute, …) and to Ride beings like pegataurs, hyppogriffs, dragons and so on. They have Advantage on Lore Tests to predict the weather, especially storms, typhoons and so on and, in addition, to feel the presence of weather-affecting magics.
Example 2. A Earth Gnome is trying to use a plane, found a moment ago: the take off and flying maneuvers are a Test with the bonus of Artificer’s Lore (2*Proficiency). A Skygnome has the same bonus and he also does the Tests with Advantage. A Top Ballista will do it even better but we will see it in another post …
We add only two other things from two previous posts: both are related to the idea of Cultural Bias, central in all Mystaran societies, of any race. There are social behaviors and stigmas that PCs can decide to follow or go against but they are quite strong and difficult to overcome (or even wanting to overcome them). Demi-humans, including Gnomes, have very ordered societies making it unlikely to go out from these indications and always for a good reasons. There are not and there will never have Barbarian Gnomes, it’s very unlike them and it there even should be one, he would be disliked by his own “brothers”. Keep it mind, you players and, especially, DMs when you want (or let) to play such an oddity!
1. From Common Playable Races of Mystara
In that post we discussed the Class Restriction for all the Races of Mystara and the reasons thereof. For Gnomes we have:
The Cultural Bias affect also the Equipment a race is able to use, in the sense that many things, though actually possible to use, are disliked and never feel right in the hand of Gnome! For a better discussion see Common Playable Races of Mystara. Here for the different subraces:
Forest: they live deep in the forests and so they use only natural materials, leather armors, wooden shields, and weapons easy to build there and to use as tools or for hunting: hatchet, spear, sling and so on.
Fire: metal armors and heavy two handed weapons; quite similar to Denwarf dwarfs equipment
Ice, Earth, Air: all kind of armors, almost never more then chain mail though; many weapons but they prefer tools (hatchet, hammer) and almost never two handed weapons.
 Most of what you find here is based upon CM4 – Earthshaker, GAZ1 – The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, GAZ3 – The Principalities of Glantri, GAZ6 – The Dwarves of Rockhome, Gaz7 – The Northern Reaches, HW – Hollow World boxed set, PC2 – Top Ballista (TB), AC11 – The Book of the Wondrous Inventions (BWI), PWA I-III – Poor Wizard’s Almanac I-III, WotI – Wrath of the Immortals, a few Dragon Magazines. The precise works of Marco Dalmonte (“Razze di Mystara” and “Codex Immortalis” in http://ddmystara.altervista.org; you can also find the translated version in English out there; Marco used also AD&D – Mystara and some other additional sources) are also very useful in comparing the sources and for original ideas. Since there are these excellent works to look upon, we will only write the basics and something of our own. We also do not want to spoiler the artistic works that made us enjoy D&D since the beginning but we will sometimes refer precisely to certain manuals to harmonize old Mystara concepts with the general 5e rules.
This is the second in a serie of interconnected posts to play Mystara Gnomes in D&D 5e, with story, background, subraces and rules. The original scope of these posts is to fill a sore gap in the major Races of Mystara and how to play them in D&D 5e: the Gnomes’ place was left desolately empty, but no more! There will be a lot of new stuff, not only for Gnomes, like rules for inventions, magical materials and so on.
Previous posts: 1) GNOMES for D&D 5e in Mystara;
Stay tuned for the next post: GNOMES AND TECHNOLOGY – first part:.