Perhaps of all the fates of the noble races spread across Luminari, that of the gnomes is deserving of the most pity. Contecles, the noted Human philosopher of antiquity, once stated, “To be a man is to be adrift in a sea of inconsequential thought, unable to understand the world by observation or experience, and therefore ever alone, even in the company of friends.” However, for no human is this as true as it is for gnomes.
Gnomes are slightly shorter, on average, than halflings, but with wonderfully brightly colored hair and skin, on par with the plumage of parrots. Bright reds, greens, blues, and so on; no two gnomes look alike. They have an incredible aptitude for magic and song, but are physically quite weak. They are not as agile as halflings, or nearly so wise as dwarves, but they are quite hardy despite their frail appearances.
They, alone of the noble races, are not descended from humanity. Their origins lie in one of the endless realms of Fae. When they first appeared, naked, bruised, burned, and otherwise injured in the fields of Palinal some eighteen-hundred years ago, they were unable to speak any known language, nor were they able to understand any writing. Although their wounds were healed by the dwarves and halflings of that city, a deeper wound remained, and it has never healed—it was a wound to their very nature, a curse known as Paling.
It is best described in this way: gnomes join us from a plane a bit closer to the first origin, the Father of the Titans, where all things are more of what they could be. More colorful, more vibrant, more meaningful, more of everything. We cannot understand for they could not describe it, and those who knew their first home are long dead. The gnomes who live on Palurin eventually lose their gnomishness—their color, their energy, their curiosity all fade with time, and they become Paled, gray husks of what they were, and die. Gnomes do not otherwise die of age, although they suffer from injury and disease like all other mortals.
To fight their curse they seek after novelty and meaning. If they are learning, experiencing new things, or living a life of genuine motivation and desire, they avoid the Paling. Many have lived centuries, and there are rumors that a single gnome remains from their advent on the world (although her identity is a secret, even among gnomes.) Gnomes are often bards or members of the schools of magic, where their natural aptitudes give them great advantage, but they are found intermingled among all races in all walks of life, with no true nation of their own. The cities of Fex and Thimbledown are the only they have ever founded themselves, and Thimbledown is considered their racial capital.