Which historical era/culture do you think would be the best inspiration for Gnomes, if any?

  • As the result of discussion on this thread with @William Redford, I have developed this separate thread to discuss the smaller cousins of Dwarfs, the Gnomes, as while there are plenty of plastic sets around for the former, there are no plastic sets at all for the latter, and relatively few metal models. 

    But how does WA go about making Gnomes, in particular making them recognisably different from Halflings and Dwarfs?

    Differentiating them from Halflings will be easy - Halflings are very much ripoffs from Tolkien's Hobbits in that they are contentedly fat (often fatter than Tolkien's characters), beardless and borrow the big hairy bare feet. Gnomes on the other hand are generally more slender, often wiry, usually have beards and have normally-proportioned feet for creatures of their size and wear shoes.

    It will be significantly more difficult to differentiate Gnomes from Dwarfs, but I certainly think that giving them smaller heads, like those of the Halflings, with pointed beards rather than bushy Viking ones, wiry bodies rather than broad ones like those on most Dwarf kits, with a height comparable to Halflings, and giving them a variety of hoods and pointed hats, rather than Viking or neo-Viking helmets, would enforce the Gnome look and feel.

    @Steven StGeorges mentioned a lot of people use Ral Partha Dwarfs to represent Gnomes, and I can see why - they are shorter than a lot of 28mm Dwarfs on the market, as well as being more slender and with more pointed beards. However, it's high time we had some properly defined, plastic Gnomes to build an army out of!

    Figure 1 depicts a stereotypical fantasy Gnome (I particularly like the idea of mushrooms growing on his armour as a homage to Gnomes often being associated with toadstools):

    WA could easily do well in just making a set of Gnome models like this, because as mentioned above there are no existing plastic Gnome kits, but I also wanted to put some other ideas out there that would involve WA developing their own Gnome aesthetic based upon a historical culture (just as the Halflings have a few Roman elements):

    1. Persians/Babylonians - I immediately thought of Persians first when devising possible historical inspirations, in part because of WA already having human Persian troops the Gnomes could ally with, and in part because of those big bushy beards and pointed hoods:

    However, there is a risk that these could intrude on the territory of an existing concept, Warhammer's Chaos Dwarfs, but then any plastic models that give even a hint of Chaos Dwarf are welcome since Forge World deleted their shockingly expensive Legion of Azgorh range.

    2. Hittites - Continuing the Eastern theme but avoiding clashing with the Chaos Dwarfs, the Bronze-Age Hittites could be an inspiration for our Gnomes, especially as they are very often depicted with pointy helmets as well as beards:

    This aesthetic could then lead to a set of two-steed chariots being pulled by whatever midget animal the Gnomes would be able to tame and control, and would work very well as a Bronze Age fantasy race that could be used against the upcoming Egyptians and any Trojan War sets that may result from this discussion here:

    3. Celts - @Steven StGeorges also mentioned that at some point in Warhammer's history Gnomes were relocated to Albion, a location that is very much home to Warhammer's incarnation of the Ancient British Celts (or Picts, if you follow GW's old lore), so Celtic Gnomes could be a possibility, particularly if they were given the tall conical helmets some Celtic nobles wore, like in this illustration:

    4. Dacians - Keeping with the Ancient Northern European theme, while the Celts do have potential as possible inspiration for Gnomes, most Celts preferred moustaches to beards and few could afford those conical helmets. An alternative would be the Dacians, a people that was much more 'pro-beard' as were their Germanic neighbours, and also wore pointed caps very much like those of the Persians: As an added bonus, Falxes are excellent weapons for those short of stature to be able to cut the 'big folk' down to size!

    5. Finns or Sami - Just like Dwarfs, Gnomes have a lot of basis in Scandinavian folklore, and in particular in my mind have connections with Finland, as a Finnish friend of our family often sends us Christmas cards featuring Gnomes in red hoods and jumpers, most likely to be Haltija:

    Not to mention that in these days of Scandinavian-inspired decor, we see these little chaps popping up in shops every Christmas:

    While WA-sculpted Gnomes wouldn't look right on a battlefield dressed as snugly as this (how would they be able to see the foe they are about to fight?), plastic Gnomes would definitely look the part in traditional Finnish costume, or that of the Sami people of northern Scandinavia if you think they'd be best off living in particularly cold climes. Perhaps some reindeer could be added into the kit as extras to be herded or protected as a battlefield objective, or even as cavalry mounts?


    I'd love to hear what you all think - please vote in the poll as to your preferences, explain your choices down below, and if you have any other ideas, by all means select 'Other' and post your suggestions here!

  • @Caratacus the Hittites actually look really good for gnomes.  So i will give my vote for that... but...


    if i were to suggest I would either go with a French, 3-musketeer theme. Kind of like the d&d 3rd edition gnome bravos... gnomish duelists daredevils. Rapiers, muskets, etc etc...


    Polish winged Hussars. for no real reason other than everyone loves Hussars. That and an army of small gnome winged Hussars with musket and axe trrops would look badass.


  • It should come as no surprise that I have spent a lot of time thinking about Gnomes. I am inspired by a lot of different Gnomish influences, including World of Warcraft. So steampunk tinkering is something I feel inherent to a Gnome project. 

    Gnomes aesthetically should fit between Halflings/Hobbits and Dwarves. Playful, quick witted, and rarely grumpy. 

    I have made Gnomes out of GW Goblins... and mostly it is the clothing colors, particularly the red caps that pull them towards Gnomes and away from Dwarves. I have been thinking of repainting these to match my GW LOTR Dwarves. In earthy colors they will look less playful.


    GW goblin bits



    GG GW gnomes

    WGA Halflings becoming Gnomes...

    GG‘s WGA Gnomes


    I am all for using a mix of different historical influences. I will try Persian and Dacian heads on WGA Halflings for example. The biggest pain is the feet. My sculpting skills are not great. 

    And of course copyright is an issue but I like the Blizzard World of Warcraft Gnome look.



    And both genders!


    Interestingly, Johnny Fraser-Allen (of Hagglethorn Hollow fame) changed over to Halflings from his earlier Gnomes for the Rise of the Halflings Printable Scenery Kickstarter. Lots of photos on the link of his Gnomes converted from GW Goblins and his various wizards. I wish he had kept to Gnomes rather than moving to Halflings for Printable Scenery.

    In addition to steampunk... I am also keen on toadstools for Gnomes. I know GW associates them with Goblins but I like them for Gnomes.

  • @Grumpy Gnome 

    A sincere Well Done!  Convincing conversions.


    I prefer the traditional Gnome:

    If they were going to have a twist.....   Well I can't think of a race with a greater need for the great equalizer:

    Black powder weapons might be more appropriate.  I would like to see a black powder RPG equivalent actually.


  • @JTam A blackpowder RPG, you mean like the ones in Disney’s Animated movie Mulan? 

    Actually for gnomes I would be okay with a bunch of 15mm high static pose minis armed with gardening tools (totally buy that), though I did like the gnomes from Deltora quest the animated series....

    And the Warcraft gnomes are pretty cool, though maybe that should be done for the dwarves.

  • Just to show what it could look like without changing feet, my Persian Headed Halflings that I plan to use as Gnomes


  • So I gave this some thought....

    What are people going to use a 28mm plastic Gnome kit for?

    D&D?  I know very little about that.  How many Gnomes would one need?  (Don't most play D&D without miniatures?)

    Now.... if these tinkerer, black powder armed, semi-steampunk Gnomes were a good stand in for Skaven (tech obsessed) Clan Skrye that opens up the pool of potential buyers immensely.

    Basic Gnome seems like a decent match for basic clanrat.  Smaller and weaker than a man (but still possessing wirey strength) but faster and more agile. 

    Jazelle rifles = Gnomes with big muskets and pavises.

    Warp fire throws = Gnomes with ye old flamethrowers.

    Ratling Machineguns = Gnomes with ye old gatling gun.

    Skaven poison globe mortar thing = Gnomes with ye old mortar or that Mulan rocket thing.

    Doomwheel = Gnome steam tank.

    Warplock Engineer is a Gnome TechnoEngineer.  (Dropping sick German House beats).


    But Skaven have crappy leadership unless in large numbers!  Well how high do you think the leadership of Gnomes should be?  They're not Dwarves.  When fighting people twice as big and stronger than you are, your morale is probably going to be fragile unless you outnumber the enemy.  


    Apropos to nothing - this is my favorite Skaven miniature of all time:


  • @JTam

    Depends on the edition, D&D 4e and 5e should be played with minis cause rule wise it is less of a headache (to be honest 3.5e player/GMs should probably use minis too) and a lot of people like having them for the other editions or other TTRPGs like Pathfinder or D20 (it makes room battles easier to visualize).

    likewise lets not forget that WFB pretty much got discontinued in the first place due KoW and Frostgrave being easer to play in addition to Perrys,etc. making cheaper empire proxies, and now there are something like 6 other popular fantasy wargames that need miniatures and more than one of them is agnostic when it comes to races.

    Also, no guarantee Clan Skrye or any of the old sub factions well be the same or in the new oldworld.

    Plus people will likely use anything for WFB in friendly games once it comes out and the WA minis are never going to be GW tourny legal anyways, so WA probably shouldn't tailor to WFB or AOS in a big way.

    So I don't see a real need to proxy for anything from WFB as much as say it being useable for Frostgrave or Dragons Rampent (or possibly even its soon to be done sister game Xenos Rampent for Swords and Sorcery Diselpunk fantasy sub rules).

    Besides Kolbolds should be the ones proxying for skavern anything if WA decides not to do proper Japanese Rat Goblins which is what the Skaverns actually are in therory, and while I like the idea of gunpowder heavy gnomes (though we could just have the dwarves be that way) we both know what sub faction those mushroom loving gnomes should proxy as in WFB:



  • I will use my Gnomes for skirmish games such as Frostgrave but some folks will use them for bigger battle games like Oathmark, Saga Fantasy, Kings of War, 9th Age, and Dragon Rampant. 

    Mantic recently came out with Halflings that could easily be Gnomes in many cases.


  • As for folks using miniatures for D&D, no... not everyone does but Dwarven Forge for example is very successful in providing premium terrain for those that do. So it is a big market. I am constantly trying to help table top role players and table top wargamers come together more.

    The 60 second Dwarven Forge video is worth your time if you have not already seen it.

  • And the Warcraft gnomes are pretty cool, though maybe that should be done for the dwarves.

    This one. I think in most settings, gnomes end up encroaching on either dwarven or halfling topics and themes and you'd be better off cutting them out entirely (you'll notice that warcraft has no halflings at all). Only the garden gnomes would be a new thing for themselves, but I've always known them as lawn ornaments and not actual mythological creatures, and they just strike me as totally out of place.

    Sorry, GG.


    On the topic of D&D: You don't need maps or minis at all, but it makes visualizing environments, tracking positioning on fights, and all the other stuff, so much easier and smoother. You also don't need real terrain pieces, though it makes things look significantly more impressive.

  • @Grumpy Gnome I was not fond of the Mantic Halflings when they came out, their Victorian dress and equipment looked too modern and militarised for Hobbits, and the English Setters look beyond silly on a battlefield, especially when they are given the Spanish name of 'Aralez'. 


    I never noticed until you pointed it out that, unlike WA and GW Halflings, they have ditched the Hobbit trope of big furry bare feet. That means they'd be excellent for Gnomes - just give the men pointy bushy beards and perhaps greenstuff some pointy hats on the hatless ones and you're already on the way to making some solid-looking Gnome models. The dogs look to be separate from their riders on the sprue so you can easily replace them with a more appropriate mount for Gnomes. I'd vote for the Badgers that the Mantic Dwarfs can ride:

    @Brian Van De Walker Night Goblins certainly share their love of mushrooms with Gnomes and certainly the best Gnome conversions I've currently seen are based off Night Goblins, but their lack of Leadership and tendency to fail Animosity tests doesn't really feel right on Gnomes.

    @JTam Strength In Numbers sounds a better mechanic for Gnomes and the technological nature of the Skaven alludes to the Gnomes' close links with Dwarfs, but some of their other rules like Verminous Valour, units like the Rat Ogres and Hell Pit Abomination and again their poor base Leadership wouldn't fit nearly so well.

    Certainly for use in Warhammer a fan-made list will be required if you want to really bring a Gnome theme to the army, but I can easily write one, writing fan-made lists is one of my favourite pastimes. I've already created Warhammer Fantasy army lists for Tyranids, Albion and Chaotic Albionites over on the EEFL forum, and am writing others for Fimir, Nighthaunt, a Roman take on Tilea and the Cult of Grimnir.

    @Miyuso The bare feet still make me think of Hafllings, but it's great to see the Persian heads fit onto the WA Halfling bodies so well, indeed it looks as if they might fit well onto the Mantic Halfling bodies too, so that there would be no need to greenstuff Gnome beards or caps!

  • I have been looking for inexpensive 2nd hand Mantic Halflings to pop up on eBay with an eye to converting them to Gnomes. Top hots and mutton chop beards work for Gnomes for me when in the right color palette. 

    The Mantic Dwarf Badger riders are new to me. Badgers would make great Gnomish steeds in my opinion. Another thing to keep my eyes open for it seems.
    @Blutze  It seems to me Dwarves and Halflings encroach on Gnomish territory not the other way around but that may be my Gnomish perspective. 

    Not a lawn ornament...

  • @Grumpy Gnome I havent seen the Mantic halflings in person, but heard that they are larger than WA halflings. Would size be an issue to you with gnomes? 

    I do have to say, It looks like the majority of you guys want the David the gnome look for for your gnomes. That would probably kill it for me. We have a bunch of garden gnomes around the house... I just cant see an army of them being taken seriously... Steam punk gnomes? Sure. Garden gnomes, no.

    As far as Skaven proxies... I can see that, but as has been pointed out, I dont really see the gnomes as a cowardly, poor leadership race. Again most of my gnome head cannon is based on 3rd edition d&d, where they were the reckless daredevil guys. Kind of like Rocky's brother-in-law... "I don't sweat you!"

    @Grumpy Gnome I have some of those badger dwarves... somewhere. I think I assembled one of them... I actually have no idea where I may have put the rest... The kit wasnts very good... or at least what I git wasnt. Warped pieces, lots of flash and casting slips/miscast... Edit: I looked in the usualy places but dont see them... I dont even see the one guy I assembled... so I may have tossed them... Oddly i did keep the restic goblin flea bag riders and war machine from that same kickstarter... and have a ton of the Basilean paladin cavalry and original plastic soldiers on sprue from that kickstarter as well... there should be a trade forum here so we can exchange crap like that to those who may want them. (though they are awful models that no one should want, and if you do... you are a bad person...)

  • I have definitely seen wildly different quality levels on Mantic minis. It is too bad that the badgers are not good then.

    As for Gnome model size, originally I was pretty open minded on size but lately I am liking the size of the WGA Halflings for Gnomes. This matches some of the Reaper Bones Gnomes nicely whereas the Wizkids D&D Gnomes are tiny.

  • @Grumpy Gnome @William Redford 

    And what's about:

    Late Pledge is still available I think (here), the Lawn Darts models are so groovy... 

    Essex is still producing some models -but pricetag is killing all fun as usual. Sculpts are a bit outdated by the way.


  • @Steven StGeorges Yeah... the Gnome guard... those gnomes look funny and kind of cool. I would consider buying one to play in an RPG... but would probably never make an army of them. Though having like 12-15 to spring on my payers in an RPG... when they underestimate the cute little guys, and try to to abuse or cheat them... or murder hobo them... that I would do... 

    The Essex ones just look like smaller dwarves to me... not bad, but not really screaming gnome to me. 

  • @William Redford 

    The best option around is to turn some Halfings -adding beards, motorhead tatoos, etc..- into Gnomes thanks to GreenStuff. Former WFB halfings could be easily turned into shorter Dwarf models...but once again with OOP, pricetag -if available on GW site- and speculation -ebay- are killing all the fun.

  • Hats are important. I'd steer clear of Phrygian caps for THIS reason:

    THE SMURFS Are Returning to TV With New Nickelodeon Animated Series |  ENERGY 106

    Just sayin'.

  • One possible option for Gnomes is to look at 20mm ranges. 

    These guys from Copplestone's Gaslands range would convert to tech Gnomes fairly easily:

    Wasteland Warriors

    Or 10mm or 15mm for lawn ornament sized ones, maybe.


  • I like the Gnome Guard sculpts but the do not lend themselves to blending well with other Gnome models, particularly those converted from WGA Halflings. 

    I also like Midlam Miniatures Gnomes... and they do blend a bit better.

    But ideally a plastic multi-part kit has more versatility for creative kitbashing than metal sculpts.

  • I went with "other" - I'd rather see WA's artists and sculptors let their imaginations go someplace unique that nobody else has done before.

    At the bottom of my list of things I'd want to see is to ape GW exactly, in any case!

    That said, I like Grumpy's use of converted GW goblins - the mushrooms, Phrygian caps, bushy beards and eybrows, and bright colours are a great combination there that really evokes Traditional Fantasy goblins for me, and it doesn't at all come across as "garden gnome" or "smurf" - those guys look like they're jolly and playful if you leave them alone and stay well out of their way, but they get darned mean if you mess with them:

    That's brilliant work.

    The gnomes, traditionally, are earth elementals - primordial spirits who owned the earth long before humans invaded their territory.  They're cousins of the dwarves, goblins, brownies, tommyknockers, kobolds, poltergeists, domovoi, will-o-wisps, witches, banshees and all sorts of other malignant "playful" spirits - you either made your treaties with them, and left tribute, bribes, or gifts for them, and stayed out of their way - treated fairly, they ran your gardens and house by night, while you occupied them by day. Like any of the "fair folk" and "little people", they might be portrayed as cute or beautiful to appease them, but in spite of the flattery, wise folk know that it's best to shower gnomes with gifts, build a home or garden for them, and leave them in peace.

    But if you treated the gnomes poorly, they were not at all cute - they were the stuff of nightmares - a haunted house was as likely to be haunted by these elementals as they were to be human ghosts, and in the Christian era being haunted by the likes of gnomes would be indistinguishable from a demonic attack - disembodied voices, things being moved or thrown about, farm animals being killed in mysterious ways, food being ruined, and so on.  These were, for all intents and purposes, "demons" worshiped by pagans who'd made their treaties with them and made their sacrifices of food and treasure and space for the gnomes.

    One might suggest that there is as much of - if not more of - the Lovecraftian "Old Ones" in the old stories of gnomes, as there is of the playful Victorian-era garden gnome characters:  potentially malignant humanoid forces of nature living right at the fringe of the explored reality of the ancient world, capable of holding families on the frontiers of the known world hostage in a reign of supernatural terror, unlesss suitabily appeased with an appropriate pact by those would become virtual cultists to the creatures.  But, if you can make peace with them, your household gnomes can be powerful allies, protecting the home from even more malignant beings, and doing special favors (see the old tale of the shoemaker and the "elves"!)

    Domovoi:  one of the more 'tame" and "civilized" gnomes!

    So, I think there are two sides the gnomish coin:  that playful, jolly side, and a far darker, more dangerously prankish side - and like any wild spirit, those two sides aren't really so far apart from each other - the gnomes could be as changeable as the weather - as the elements - and should be treated with care.


    In D&D:

    Traditionally, D&D's gnomes are like playful dwarves, who they get along with splendidly, and appeared as one of the player-character races, favoring illusionist spell-casting classes, and using hooked hammres as weapons.  The 4th edition of D&D infamously dropped gnomes as PC characters, and statted them up instead as monsters, with comedy ensuing!  I believe that changed again with 5th edition, with gnomes becoming exiles of a sort of elemental nature dimension, who are in constant danger of fading away the longer they spend in our world, with adventuring being one of the few things that helps to keep them from losing their gnomishness.

    I'm a bit out of touch with how anyone else uses gnomes in D&D these days - I'd be as happy using them (like dwarves, elves, humans, halflings, goblins, orcs, or any other humanoids) as both monsters and as friendlies for PCs to work against or for, depending on the situation and how the PCs navigate it.  I'm a bit eccentric that way, though - I don't think I've ever heard of other D&D groups using gnomes as anything other than PC characters, and those emphasizing only the jolly, playful side of gnomes.


    The difficulty...

    The difficulty with gnomes, much like dwarves, elves, goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, kobolds, ghouls, ogres, trolls, werewolves, vampires, witches, and many other fairy creatures is that they mostly draw from the same well of folklore describing much the same primordial elemental spirits - it's more or less the same legend, given a different name and a slightly different description.

    The basic idea was developed to some extent (in its troubled, Victorian way) in Margaret Murray in e.g. The Witch-Cult in Western Europe and James Frazer's The Golden Bough (both a big influence over pulp horror/fantasy/sci-fi writers like Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft):  the myths and folklore of Europe supposedly descend cultural memories of an Old Religion - the "witch-cult" - held by a primordial race that was driven out of mainstream Europe into the fringes of the wilderness.  That elder race - the witches, gnomes, fairies, goblins, satyrs, nymphs, and such of legend - was attributed with the powers of casting spells, shape-shifting, drinking the blood of victims, and so on, while worshiping their secret nocturnal cult of horned devil-gods and moon goddesses in sacred groves and fields in the dark, in between waging a secret war on the civilized people who encroached on their wild lands.  This elder race would be the mound-builders of prehistoric European cairns and barrows:  passage-tombd leading deep into a mysterious underworld into which the fairy-folk retreated against the advances of civilization, emerging only by night to work their mischief and spite upon the invaders by the light of the full moon:  these are the prototypical "undead" of the fairy world, the wights, ghouls, revenants, vampires, and such, the shape-shifting were-creatures of the night, the devil-bought witches, the flesh-eating ogres, the subterranean dwarves guarding dungeons full of buried treasures....

    The tortured Victorian pseudo-science aside (these books have been largely discredited, of course, living on mainly in pulp fiction and in the New Age movement), these works were highly influential in their day, and do manage to point out the close relationship between many of the creatures of folklore and modern fantasy gaming:  whether they be orcs, ogres, ghouls, werewolves, drow elves, vampires, or witches, these creatures are very frequently spell-casting, sub-terranean cannibals with a hatred of human life, dwelling on the outskirts of civilization.  Whether poltergeists, tommyknockers, witches, goblins, kobolds, or gnomes, they tend to be mischievous creatures of the night who haunt the living folk who have invaded their homes.  Dwarves, gnomes, dark elves, goblins, and orcs live in their underground tunnels, guarding hordes of treasure.  Wild men, orcs, elves, ogres, giants, and trolls haunt to forests at the fringes of civilization. Werewolves, vampires, witches, trolls, and "little people" of all sorts are skilled shapeshifters, changing size or changing form into bats, wolves, cats, owls, serpents, and worms....

    In short, the problem in Fantasy Kitchen Sink gaming is that all of these creatures kind of step on each others' toes a little, sharing a little bit in common with each other, and threatening to crowd each others' spaces!

    There's two ways you can go with this: 

    • You can just embrace the similarities wherever they work for you, blurring the lines between the different "breeds" of fairy creatures as you see fit.  (What's the difference between a gnome and a goblin?  Nothing really, except whether you're on their good side or bad side....)
      • This can actually be fun in an RPG, and probably in an open-ended enough war game - try it sometime!  (What's the difference between a werewolf and a goblin warg?  Not much, depending on how literally you take the idea of "wolf-riders"!) 
      • It's all in how you dress them up to fit the rest of your world-building concept - pick little bits of the folklore you like from different takes on the them, and add some interesting depth back into your version of orcs or whatever. (What's the difference between a witch and an orc spell-caster?  Dark elves and ghouls or orcs, or morlocks or derros?  Not a whole lot, in spirit!  For example, perhaps ghouls are orcs that, possessed by unclean spirits, have made their homes among the tombs. When your orc hordes go marching, be sure to bring a regiment of their ghouls, dressed in gravely rags and carrying morbid totems made from their favorite tomb-loot....)
    • You can try to forge distinct identities for each of your breeds of fairy-folk, compartmentalizing them into as unique a role as you can.  Some of the options:
      • Cosmetic appearance.  (What's the difference between gnomes and goblins?  One is Euro-flesh-coloured and smiling, the other is green and angry looking, and that is important!)
      • Size.  (What's the difference between a goblin and a hobgoblin or orc?  Goblins are smaller!)
      • Battlefield role.  (What's the difference between a goblin and an orc?  Orcs are heavy infantry, goblins are skirmishers and cavalry, while gnomes are illusionist spell-casters!)
      • Environment.  (What's the difference between a kobold and a goblin?  Goblins are albino, troglodytic, wizened creatures found mostly in caves or outside the caves by night, while kobolds are reptilian creatures who haunt the deserts like djinn, emerging from their burrows to warm themselves in the blazing sunlight by day....  Or, kobolds live underground in mines and caves, while goblins live in forests and woodlands, making their homes in hollow trees....)
      • Theme.  (Gnomes are close to nature, using elemental magic and clever illusions to hide their forest homes among the mushrooms; they've taken flowers, mushrooms, and woodland animals for their theme!  In contrast, Goblins are a more industrial or technological race, as depicted in Tolkien's The Hobbit:  inventing many clever devices, but no beautiful things... they favor the drab colours of factory coveralls, and take up gears and hammers for their symbols....)
      • Cultural analogy - AKA "Creatures from the Planet of the Hats".  (Persian gnomes are very different from English goblins, and I call dibs on the orcs in cowboy hats!)
    • Take a third option: Any outside-the-box third option you can think of, no matter how off-the-wall, can work, given the "fantasy kitchen sink" nature of most modern gaming.  This includes inventing something new and original out of whole-cloth, like those dragon-like kobolds, or 40K's fungus-like orcs that infest worlds like an invasive species, or those unsettling, troglodytic, morlock-like dwarves from Skyrim....  
      • The less like anything Games Workshop, Tolkien, D&D, World of Warcraft, and the like have done before, the better!  (What would happen if your gnomes looked and acted more like sci-fi "little green men" and/or "grey aliens", than they do jolly, playful garden gnomes?  These are intensely curious and enigmatic invaders from another world - fairyland - with the power, among other things, to replace people with soulless pod-people doppelgangers.... Give these otherworldly gnomes short, spindly bodies, large, bulbous heads, big, dark eyes, bland expressions, and optional long beards and caps to go with some retro-sci-fi costumes, and crystal-powered wands and other such devices.... As such, let them double for sci-fi aliens for Death Fields!)

        No matter how silly a Phrygian cap might look, it won't make a face like that any less creepy....


    I think I slightly prefer borrowing a little bit from all over the spectrum of fairytale folklore, blurring the lines a little in the process, followed closely by doing something really off-the-wall and different, but none of these methods of world-building is really wrong,


    Anyway, TL;DR:  I like Grumpy's goblin conversion, and think those - like the best gnomes IMHO - are those that mix a little of the stereotypical jolliness and whimsy, with something darker and more dangerous. 

    But, the more I think of it, the more I think that "little-grey-men" style gnomish invaders from an alien fairyland sound like they could be pretty darned cool!

  • @Yronimos Whateley 

    We have a few Domovoi in my house:


  • That's fantastic, @JTam !

    Wish I could go into the whole insane story without derailing the discussion, but several years ago I found out the hard way that the Appalachian hills have a much better memory for that sort of folklore - the brownies, tommyknockers, and little people and such - than larger US cities like Baltimore do.  What a shame to bury and forget the old stories!  I'm always happy to see things like Domovoi being kept alive!

  • @Yronimos Whateley Did you just mention Baltimore randomly? Or are you connected to Baltimore? Just asking as I am here in Maryland. Not Baltimore... though I used to live in Baltmore County. 

  • @Yronimos Whateley 

    Come on, you can't just tease a story like that..... ;)

  • You know guys I have been thinking since it has been brought up time and again,  why not have the Dwarves and Gnomes be combined into one "fantasy shorties" (probably better titled short folk) with armored and unarmored sets.

    The armored set focus on the steampunk elements with head swaps for both dwarves and gnomes (my guess is it would be a difference in headgear and noses).

    The unarmored focuses on the angry mushroom framer and miner side of things.

    Since they are not all that different race wise why separate them by that when you can  do light and heavy infantry for both at the same time.

  • @William Redford   - I lived just outside Baltimore and worked in the Inner Harbor for about a decade, but moved back down to the hill country a year or two ago.

    I'm going to have to leave that story hanging, I can't think of any way to explain it that wouldn't take a little too long to explain, and risk "triggering" someone unnecessarily - I mean, it started with someone demanding to know why I kept a wrapped, uneaten fudge brownie on my desk to keep my work from getting "pixilated" and "jinxed", and eventually ended with HR intervening to soothe the impending ourage and correct my sensitivity with one of the most surreal conversations of my life.  Everyone involved had to stop the conversation, reboot, and ask each other "wait a minute, what are YOU talking about????" and I counted myself lucky to walk away with a stern lecture about how elves aren't real, while trying to figure out what dog whistles have to do with gnomes.  Note to self, in case I ever forget:  NEVER joke about paying respects to the "little people", "brownies", or "fairy folk" in a city, because folklore and fantasy are NOT the first place city peoples' imaginations go, and talk about goblins and tommyknockers are Serious Business there....



    @Brian Van De Walker - I've always been fine with the differences between dwarves, gnomes, goblins and so on being simply a matter of their mood at the moment and the language of whoever is talking about them, more than any distinct physical or cultural differnce - I'm cool with a dwarf/gnome kit that share the same parts to create stereotypical dwarves, stereotypical gnomes, anything in between, or something a little different and new.  Grumpy's goblin-gnomes, for example, are brilliant, and would work as dwarves in my world!  


  • the the 'classic fantasy' gnome i assuem you mean the stereotypical D&D version? tiny, pointy hats, penchant for illusions?

    those were derived from a mix of two main sources.. celtic 'little people' tales from ireland, scotland, and wales (such as leprechans, brownies, redcaps, etc.) and scandinavian house spirits like tomte, Nisse (and to an extent, the slavic Domovoi)

    so my suggestion would be to 'reverse engineer' the D&D version and use a mix of Celtic elements and norse elements. perhaps give a nod to the household spirit element by making some of their gear repurposed household items. a heavy pot lid as a shield, a carving knife as a sword, etc. mixed in with the more classic wood shield and stabbing spear type stuff. pointy cloth hats are almost a must i think, since they're a common element across all of these, though you can easily base them off more historical styles rather than using the dunce cap types so commonly seen in modern art.

    i do think that Gnomes should be even smaller than halflings, although perhaps not too much smaller since it would make assembly harder. i think i'd go a few MM shorter, and then go for a gangly look, with small thin torsos and long limbs. that would get across the feel of being smaller than halflings without making physoically much smaller.



    @Brian Van De Walker - I've always been fine with the differences between dwarves, gnomes, goblins and so on being simply a matter of their mood at the moment and the language of whoever is talking about them, more than any distinct physical or cultural differnce - I'm cool with a dwarf/gnome kit that share the same parts to create stereotypical dwarves, stereotypical gnomes, anything in between, or something a little different and new.  Grumpy's goblin-gnomes, for example, are brilliant, and would work as dwarves in my world!  

    Nodwick actually did a comic based off that idea for Dragon magazine



  • @Mithril2098 Nah,I think we should stick with the modern pointy hat stereotypes about the size of the Halflings would be good enough, maybe add some steampunk elements at most.

    Besides the only real alternative European cultural theme to consider over the probably more apt and wanted modern pointy hat wearing stereotypes for gnomes would be the Picts who are widely regarded as the true origin of the supposed Norse and Celtic myths about the little mound dwellers like the goblins and gnomes.

    Also more importantly (and more honestly my complaint with your idea😆) is that Norse (Viking), Celtic, and while we are at it Greek myth and cultures are kind of overrated/over promoted in our modern pop culture (to the point where I feel its the sin of pride going before destruction or at the very least remarkably uncreative lore writing😆) and in the case of the first 2 at least way overdone in miniature wargaming as a theme. Unless we are talking something more off the beaten trail than gnomes like Huldra or Selkies the Celtic and Norse cultures in particular kind of need a real break to be fresh again*.

    *(unlike the “Magical Land of Bavaria” which is the generic default setting of fantasy everywhere practically with easy to alter and tailor motifs, its forever fresh🤣).


  • @Brian Van De Walker I didn't know it was believed that the Picts were the source of 'little mound dweller' myths, any particular sources?

  • @Caratacus No hard academic ones I can think of off hand, but my mother researched Fairytails all her life and she told me that first (it is also possible my father was involved on one of his more wild research kicks), so I took it as the "common theory" till you asked.  I did ask mother where she got her info from, but it has been years since she first mentioned  this hypothesis and she doesn't know either.  She did suggest checking the preface to Jeosph Jacobson's Irish fairytale book though honestly after a skim of the preface if it is in that book it’s more likely to be buried in the notes and referances section (yeah the last bluelink goes to a free gutenburge online copy).

    I will grant afte a fe web reads it is a hypothesis as opposed to proven fact which is not uncommon problem with folkstory origins from Northern Europe*, and  just from skimming the wiki articles on the topic it may not even be accepted anymore.

    From what I can glen it was considered  the likely origin of the 'little mound dweller' myths for decades since it was believed that the Picts where all over Northern Europe, supposedly short,  they supposedly lived in mound like dug outs, and they supposedly kept kidnapping people. The issue is this version which was apparently popularized in the late 19th early 20th century by David MacRitchie who is retrospectively wrong about quite a few things with regards to the Picts such the height (the real Picts were not stone age Euro pygmies) and there even seems to be a degree of debate on whether to count all the "Picts" as Picts or just the ones in Pictland (Scotland) since the Latin word “Picti” from which Picts originated was apparently thrown around a lot by the Romans when dealing with folks that painted themselves.  

    Long story short there where quite a few “mound dwellings” discovered over the centuries in Europe and the Picts where thought to be the ones responsible for said dwellings and the origin for Rumpelstiltskin by some 19th century Anglo Sphere academics😆. Currently the only thing everyone appears to agree the Picts are responsible for are some carved stones in Scotland.

    Though I would say it still might be possible dealings with the Picts in Late Roman period originated some of those "short folk in the mound" stories as they seemed to be pirates meaning they where traveling kidnappers (like everyone else in Bronze to early middle ages Europe that was next to a coastline🤣), they did seem to live in roundhouses and used brochs  both of which do look a lot like mounds, I doubt they were taller than the scandies of the time even if they were the same height as Scots of today and you know how stories get altered over the retellings.   

    That all aside going with the Picts’ imagined origins and history for gnomes would still be  better fantasy plastic than just more little men in generic helmets and chainmail (ie what the words “Celtic and Norse origins” actually  seems to mean with this sorta of topic to mini manufacturers), so to would be the pointy hat wearing D&D garden variety of gnomes (honestly more so than the Picts if you ask me).  

    *(you only really seem to start getting documented info on the fairy critters in the early Christian Era when the monks wrote the stuff down, stuff that could theoretically just be them goofing off due to boredom🤣).

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