Gnome Tour

Welcome to my page for gnome lore! My gnome lore is heavily inspired by the history of gnomes and pygmies as told by Paracelsus, as well as a nice mix-in of Dungeons and Dragons, David the Gnome, and historical gnome mythology. This is a passion project of mine, and gnomes are very near and dear to my heart. I will include drawn examples of each type of gnome as I develop them, and this page is likely to change extensively over time as my ideas develop. I hope you can enjoy my gnome lore and ideas!



An Introduction to Gnomes

As written by Elgin Gnoamsly, Illusionist and Historian

When I say the word "Earth," what do you think of? Do you think of soil, and stones, in a literal sense? Do you think of dirt? Or maybe you go more broad, and think of the whole planet -- there's a reason it's called the Earth, after all. The ground is what everything sits on, and it holds the core of our planet. If we had no earth, we'd have no Earth. It really would just be the Blue Planet, in that case, wouldn't it? The world is so vast, yet ever-shrinking with your modern technology. But for a gnome? It's always going to be beyond large and full of secrets you humans can't even comprehend!

For we gnomes are masters of the liminal, and exist just on the edge of your peripheral -- what you can see and know. Some gnomes such as myself demonstrate this through masterfully hidden villages between the realms of reality and unreality, disguised with illusory trickster magics. Others may themselves walk along these lines in our world. Gnomes are folk of simple pleasures, and our ethos in life is simply to enjoy what we've got. A lot of gnomes consider your reality a playground, something to toy with -- such as my fellow garden gnomes and leprechauns. Others see it as a rare beauty to behold and protect, such as kindred gnomes. But the number one thing to know about gnomes is we don't leave footprints in your world, literally or figuratively.

Our ancient ancestors of yore, the pygmies, were earth elementals. We know these as beings who can move through earth with the ease of a fish through water. While some gnomes have maintained this ability, such as earthen gnomes in particular, many have lost a majority of it. Aside from things like transmutation when creating our young, and our strong force of excellent cavers. I can't say I particularly have any of these skills, but I do skip a mean stone!

Earth is a tough and steadfast element, grounded and stubborn, and this is a set of traits often found in gnomes and our dwarven cousins. Earthen and cave gnomes in particular strongly value steadfastness and determination. Well, you know despite its strength, when isolated earth easily crumbles under force -- go grab some and try it yourself! -- and this is why a lot of gnome societies have very strong bonds and are tightly-knit. Some find this through fellow gnomefolk, while others make these connections with other things in life, such as wild creatures or other elemental beings like fairies. We garden gnomes prioritise friendships over all else, with gnomefolk or otherwise. A cave gnome will tell you there is no stronger bond than those between earth elementals, and generally refuse the camaraderie of anything but. Can't say I'm on close terms with any myself! But, well, although there are many differences between gnomes, we can mostly agree that "You're only as much as the connections you make." Nomadic gnomes are the number one exception to this usual standard. Why they have decided to take this solitary path is something that remains to be seen...

Now, there's much more that can be said about the intricacies of our kind, and the differences between us that bring us all together, but I wouldn't want to overwhelm you with it all as I could go on for months! So thank you for reading, kind human.

Signed,




General Biological Info

Of the Gardens

  • Includes shire gnomes, trickster gnomes, leprechauns, house gnomes, and brownies.

Garden gnomes cover a wide variety of more urban types; those with permanent residences. They are highly social, including with non-gnomefolk, but are also very secretive. Through the use of trickster magic, a gaggle of gnomes called Illusionists will cast a protective barrier around their villages which make them completely hidden from non-gnomefolk, as well as any else who would be unwelcome. These act almost as a pocket dimension, wherein people who are not privy to the existence of the village can't have any impact upon it, even if they walk right through it. Gnomes within the bubble, aside from those within the Trickster's Tower found in the centre of Garden villages, will not be made aware of this occurring.

Due to their social nature, garden gnomes are bar none the most frequently seen. They have been known to play tricks upon humankind, mostly at night. If a gnome is seen by a human during the day, it will turn to stone until nightfall, where it returns to normal and can escape. Garden gnomes are also known to form very close relationships with insects as well as fairies, the descendants of the ancient sylph elemental.

Gnomes demonstrate a mastery over liminal space and perceptions of space, and an example of this comes in the form of their housing. It is a common assumption that gnomes like to live in mushrooms, and for some this may be the case; those "some" being the few select gnomes who haunted a human household, heard them talking about it, and found it very amusing.. A lot of garden gnomes, especially shire gnomes, live in buildings made of wattle and daub that are extensions of these "object" houses. For instance, a gnome who loves to garden may have the house front of a watering can, which extends into a white-walled house with colourful shingles and crowded trellises covering the walls. However inefficient, garden gnomes place a great value on self-expression and sticking out together, which makes a lot of garden villages ostentatious displays of every facet of the residents' interests. A hodgepodge, if you will.

Being the smallest of the gnomes, the world is even larger to a garden gnome than it is to any other, and quite the more perilous. Under the cloak of night time, which is when a gnome likes to "leave the nest," is when the trolls are about. And the boggarts. And the owls. And so they must be very careful to not guide these dangerous beasts back to their villages after a romp in the human towns. And on top of it all, garden gnomes are by far the most superstitious. Trickster gnomes are prone to believing in something so frightening so thoroughly that it can become real, and this is why beginning illusionists take three-year long courses in "Fantastical Works of the Mind and How to Thwart the Brain's Boggart." A trickster would like you to think they are very brave for being able to manage this so-called power.

Trickster Gnomes of Garden and House

Tricksters are a sort of rapscallion in the gnome world. Although not outright nefarious, they get their kicks from causing minor inconveniences and playing pranks on their fellow gnomefolk -- although this is one of the greatest crimes a gnome can commit. Particularly, a lot of trickster gnomes -- especially house gnomes -- like to mess with humans while they're asleep. This can involve "misplacing" their items, turning appliances on and off, rearranging room decor, stuffing nostrils with cotton (which is why you may wake up congested on some days), or if they're feeling particularly rambunctious, startling members of the household with loud noises. Any dastardly little deeds their wretched little minds can think up, they've got the willpower to see to its conclusion. Perhaps it's something to note that a lot of house tricksters were once, in fact, shire tricksters, who were exiled for taking it a little too far with the funnies.

One of the main staples of trickster gnomes are their jingling bells, something they share in common with the odd leprechaun. These are usually attached to the tip of the hat, or fastened to a band around its brim. Otherwise, they generally tend to dress like shire gnomes, although they are more likely to wear puffy pants and pointed shoes.

It's frankly quite rare to find a house gnome who isn't also a trickster. If one is finding signs of a benevolent gnome in their house, it is likely to be, in fact, a brownie.

Brownies, or Hobs

Now, if one were to not so much be finding signs of a gnome, but moreso signs of a rat, it might instead be a brownie. Brownies are quite exclusively house-dwellers, although they are known to sometimes spend the winter in gnomish shires. They are technically cousins of the gnomes, branched off from them thousands of years ago when they decided to sail away from the earliest gnomes' ancestral homeland of Scandinavia to the hilly lands of Scotland. Unlike their fellow trickster house-dwellers, brownies are a very helpful sort. While humans are asleep brownies tend to household chores like sweeping, sorting, dusting, and tending to farmlands (if any). All a brownie would ask in return is a bright hearth and some fresh warm milk.

Beside us you can see an illustration of a brownie called Mott. He is holding a personal broom made of broom (the plant) and a stick he found in the garden, bound by flax rope. At his side is a flask which he carries gifted milk or cream in while he works around the house. Brownies are known for being able to carry just about anything in their hats, and Mott's hat is chock full of tools and fascinations like pretty buttons, strong cheeses, and hairpins (as they can always come in handy when your body is covered in the stuff).

During the winter, when farms are dormant, some brownies prefer to spend their time within gnomish shires, where they serve quite the spectacle due to their out-there appearances. Others may hibernate throughout the winter months and remain very dedicated to their chosen household. In fact, when a brownie or batch of brownies has claimed a household, they will treat it as their home like you would your hometown.

The number one thing a brownie shares in common with a gnome is their pointed hats. Other than that, brownies are really quite different. Adapted to the Scottish highlands, brownies have very long and stick-like legs compared to the average gnome, which they use to scale hills and rocks. These also come in very handy when climbing human staircases! Brownies are also known for being covered in a thick layer of fur-like hair, and due to this coverage are scarcely clothed aside from their hats, some protective footwear, and perhaps a shawl or cloak. They have small, beady eyes and rat-like tails. In a similar fashion to rats, brownies usually live inside the walls, and access this through small holes close to the floor. If you ever catch a glimpse of what seems like a rat, it's possible it may in fact be a brownie who has chosen to help with your household. They are generally quite timid and polite, but if mistreated or disrespected greatly by their human hosts they are liable to become monstrous creatures called boggarts. These can quickly become hostile to anything but themselves if not treated with kindness, and many end up finding their place among woodland trolls.

Another small thing about brownies is that they tend to be obtusely vague. Most words you'll hear from a brownie are very non-committal and around-the-bush, which can make them a nightmare to plan days out with. And on top of this, they tend to be quite focussed on the literal side of things. Not brilliant jokesters, compared to their tricky roommates.

Illusionist Gnomes

To the left you will see an illustration of an Gon Illusionist, called Elgin Gnoamsly. Illusionists, a form of Trickster, often wear long robes accompanied by an even longer cloak with a hood, along with their staple hat. All hats are unique and reflective of the gnome wearing them, and can be decorated with fascinations like feathers, dried plants, beads, jewels, and fabric wraps. The Illusionist's cloak is reminiscent of stained glass, made of individual fragments of dyed silks sewn together with thread. A gnome's silks are made with materials personally given to them through their bug relations. Many Illusionists are best friends with a few spiders.

As an Illusionist, Gnoamsly has a long and brightly-coloured robe decorated with ox-eye daisies which change over-time; they grow, bloom, and wilt with the changing days. At night, they will appear shut. This type of artistic clothing is a staple of garden gnome fashion; but shifting clothes such as this are only available to Illusionist gnomes. That said, an Illusionist gnome could spend effort on manually changing the visuals of a non-trickster's garments, but it's a lot of effort. The average Garden Gnome will wear tunics with leggings, blouses with long skirts, and boots, much like your typical garden gnome you might buy from the shops (these are not real gnomes).

Gnoamsly's hat covering his eyes, and his very loose clothing, is a sort of subgroup of gon gnomes called "gonks." Gonk gnomes prefer to cover a lot of skin with clothing or hair, and only have extremities like their noses, feet, and hands visible. The practicality of this is somehow out of the question for them.

A lot of Garden Gnomes are, as likely figured from their names, avid gardeners. Gnoamsly is no exception, as within his side pouch he carries seeds and clippings for his personal corner of the garden. You may have noticed that he seems to have bug antennae -- this is the desired effect! These are actually fake props that Gnoamsly wears to appear more familiar to stranger bugs, whom many gnomes greatly value the friendships of. Another curiousity of Gnoamsly is more unique to his case -- his driftwood birch staff. This was a gift to him from a kindred beachdwelling gnome out of town, which is blessed with magically-imbued sea glass (a common container of magic for kindred gnomes) that allows him to fully communicate with bugs. He is able to talk to them verbally, and understand them when they speak. He protects this staff with his life from other tricksters who might like to take it for themselves. Garden Gnomes can be ruthless!

Shire Gnomes

Shire gnomes are more of an umbrella type, which covers your "Average Joe" of garden gnomes. They're the shopkeepers, homemakers, gardeners -- the families that inhabit a garden gnome village, or shire! Shire gnomes believe strongly in collectivism, and form close, tight-knit communities. A gnome shire will have its own name and emblem, voted on as a group, that reflects their interests. For example, the two shire gnomes you see here are from the same village as Elgin Gnoamsly, signified by the rose emblems on their outfits. Shire gnomes take a great pride in their hometowns, and like to follow a style code to represent that. This usually comes down to popular colours and patterns. A majority of shire gnomes like to dress in quite a dainty manner, such as the shire gnomes you see in this section. The village these gnomes belongs to priorities bright and vibrant linens with striped patterns!

To the right you'll see an illustration of a kindly shire pelly named Friga. She is the village's local singer, and a popular one at that. She's wearing a conical hat that is created in a similar way you might fold paper to become one -- it is wrapped around itself, then bound together with a silken band complete with a rose-shaped emblem. This way of forming a gnome hat can create a small opening at the top, through which a trail can be tucked. As you can see, Friga is wearing a gossamer veil, that is pulled through the hat to fall loosely by the sides of her head. Other gnomes may fasten this together to create a hood-like shape, but personally Friga enjoys leaving it to flow like beautiful silky hair.

To the left you'll see another shire gnome, a crad named Neddy. They are a retired gardener who guides their children in taking care of their corner of the shire garden. See, shire gnomes like to operate community gardens that surround their village almost like a moat, and only a few have tiny personal gardens in or around their homes. And when a garden gnome transforms, almost inevitably into a flower, these will be put in either private gardens or the community garden. Neddy is particularly fond of tulips, and has adopted one as their hat. While this uncommon, it certainly isn't unheard of among gardening gnomes -- if they have a favourite flower, and it's hat-able, it may very well become one! After all, garden gnomes see their hats as a form of self-expression and part of their gnomehood, and what better way to show your love for gardening?

Admittedly, this is a major source for many embarrassing phases in a gnome's life. Some gnomes may become completely convinced that a snail shell makes a perfect head cosy and found that the slime stuck it to their head so fast that the entire village had to help pry it off afterward, and even after that they kept trying to the point that their village banned snail shell hats -- although this certainly wouldn't be Neddy. Definitely not.

Of the Forests

  • Includes nomads, tricksters, kindred gnomes, boggarts, and trolls.

Compared to Garden Gnomes, Forest Gnomes are a bit more niche, and a LOT more reserved. Forest Gnomes are unlikely to form societies, preferring instead to fly solo, or -- if they are a Kindred -- travel with their friendly animals. If you could ever even catch sight of a Forest Gnome, it would be common to find them following along with migratory herds of deer, riding the backs of foxes, or climbing through the trees with their squirrel companions. The average nomadic gnome, on the other hand, will travel by foot using the desire paths made by these other creatures.

To Forest Gnomes, the only good impact is a small and steady one. They are far from boat-rockers, and mostly try to keep things as they are, and protect what is already there. Many forest gnomes of Britain dwell in ancient woodlands, spending their nights within the trunks of trees accessed through knotholes, or underneath the roots in burrows (although this is more common among Kindred gnomes). Nomadic gnomes are not above a simple tent. A lot of Forest Gnomes are of very few words, and hold an air of mystique and slight intimidation to Garden Gnomes. Although unlikely, there are known Forest Gnome villages, which are mostly tradeposts for exchanging materials out in the wild. They tend not to be able to use liminal magics or illusions to hide their villages, unless they have some good friends, so these tend to be underground in burrow-like cave systems. They never go below 50ft into the ground.

While they might not be formally educated -- this really depends on the gnome -- a Forest Gnome can be trusted to have brilliant instincts, and a wonderfully practical mind. As they spend their entire lives out in the wilderness, this is necessary.

Forest gnome outfits tend to be a mix of raw natural materials, such as bark, shed feathers, or chitin, and linen. Flax is the number one material traded among Forest Gnomes in outposts, as (and quite understandably, all things considered) a lot of Forest Gnomes aren't particularly fond of leather trappings.

Kindred Gnomes

To our right is an illustration of a pelly Kindred, known to most as April. She is quite thickly built but with strong and well-bound legs, and for good reason -- she travels with deer! Yes, April is a Kindred gnome who has formed bonds with two species: Red deer and rabbits. A majority of Kindreds will bond with 2-3 species like April has, and will carry more characteristics and behaviours of these animals the stronger their bonds are. For example, on April you can see she has a beautiful pair of red deer antlers, as well as the powerful chewing teeth of a rabbit, AND -- although she might be hiding it from you -- she may also have a little fluffy tail.

Something to note about kindred gnomes is their beautiful leafy cloaks. These are made of masses of grasses, and other small herbaceous plants, which form a thickly-layered shroud for the individual. A kindred gnome will never go without their cloak, and this has led some to believe that their magic is actually stored within it. April, personally, likes to use her cloak as an easy blanket.

Something else you may have noticed about April is her lack of a hat. Forest Gnomes are the most likely type of gnome to be seen without one, and don't take them as seriously as -- for example -- Garden Gnomes, who see them as a crucial form of self-expression and part of their gnomehood. As if their height wasn't enough to make them stand out, hatless Forest Gnomes often get disapproving glances for not wearing hats into town, should they ever visit.

Trolls

Gnomes generally theorise that brownies and trolls are in some way related, and this is mostly due to their large stature (for gnome standards). The average fully-grown troll is double the size of the average gnome, and with double the hair, too. Like early gnomes, trolls are extremely territorial, and travel in family groups. Their thick bodies of fur make clothing unnecessary, alongside the fact that they're about as interested in owning anything as your average nomad is in having friends. To many, their culture is a mystery, mostly because any trollogist gnomes who have ventured into their territory typically don't come back.

It's been assumed, quite sensibly, that trolls like to eat gnomes, and so far this hasn't been disproven, and along with owls this notion is a very good way to keep the kids at home during the night. Many gnomelings have quaked in restless slumber, convinced that the full moon peering through their window at night is in fact the hungry eye of a troll -- and if you were a gnome out in the woods at night, it might be unwise to follow the moon back home.

There are some notions we have about trolls, such as that they may turn to stone during the day similar to gnomes, and this is true to an extent!-- Although, only of mountain trolls. Most trolls, in fact, dwell in the shady understorey of woodlands, and instead become very prickly and sometimes rather rude bushes. Accurate to our -- and gnome's -- understanding is that they are absolutely most active at night, which is when they like to hunt.

Above you can see some illustrations of trolls, displaying different types. The bottom one is a relatively tall woodland troll, sporting some likeness to a bovine. Like kindred gnomes, trolls are able to adopt the features of creatures around them to aid in their survival and general ease of life. This strong and hardy troll is a fierce defender of his family against any other woodfolk, and his moss-coated fur provides great grappling for trollets. Above him is a cousin from the snowy mountains of Scotland, who is slightly smaller. They appear to have adopted the characteristics of a hare, ram, and fox. Their teeth tend to be jagged and sharp, ideal as they are one of the very few pygmy-born to eat meat. And rocks. One gnome reported seeing a woodland troll using its spiny fur to skewer fruits and funghi, and spent the rest of his retirement trying to bait them out with small apples and berries. He befriended a lot of birds this way.

To come: Nomads, tricksters, and boggarts

Of the Earth