The Gnomes of Istaria perhaps best represent the future of where Istaria and the Living Races are headed. While they are not typically known as dedicated practitioners of the arcane, they are the race of beings that seem to be taking the forces of magic in new and previously unknown directions - the path of technology.
Gnomes are extremely adept at shaping and binding the forces of magic for the purpose of powering great and exotic machinery and devices.
Gnomes also strive to bridge the gap that exists between the realms of magic and technology. A defining trait of Gnomish society is their overall dedication to the forces of industriousness and creation.
Many Gnomes fill many roles and functions within Istarian society, and perform well in many different areas of study and focus.
They strive to keep excellent relations with all other societies in Istaria; they are one of the strongest proponents of the new-found unity amongst the Living Races.
Gnomes also seem to have an innate desire to form organizations, councils, committees, and institutions. One of the more prominent institutions formed by Gnomes after the loss of their homeland was the New Rachival Research Institute.
This infamous organization has dedicated itself to the study of all things magical or unknown, from the nature of the elements, to the study of the Blight, the effects of the Ritual of Everlasting Life, and many other topics.
Though membership to the Institute is not limited solely to Gnomes, they do make up a majority of its constituents.
Physically, Gnomes are roughly as tall as Dwarves, though usually less broad across the shoulders. There is no denying, however, that they share many physical features with their Dwarven cousins.
Gnomes are not by nature burly, but their frames do support a wide range of physical characteristics, from brawny to portly. Their heads seem to be just slightly larger proportionally than the rest of their body is; this sometimes give Gnomes a comical look about them, often coupled with the general appearance of bewilderment and excitement that make up the typical Gnome countenance.
Both males and females have a wide variety of eye and hair colors, though most of their skin tone is of a light, fair hue.
While Gnomes are not as strong as most of the other Living Races, they make up for it in their solid dexterity and their gifted power and focus. Gnomes make excellent spell casters and scholarly tradespeople, and also make for fine Scouts. The history of the Gnomian people is one that is shrounded in mystery.
It is possible that they arrived or rose up with the Dwarves millennia ago or that the people mentioned by Nelthorr during his travels were not the Dwarves, but in fact the Gnomes.
But the fact remains that the history of the Gnomish people, much like the history of the Elves, is now lost or fragmented due to the sundering of their homeland. The Gnomes themselves do not speak of it, except to say that they will one day reclaim their homeland and their history will once again be known to all.
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Nestled on a high steppe betwixt the Northern and Southern Granitefall Mountains, Rachival was the capital of the Gnomes before it was overrun by the Undead Horde many years ago. If rumor can be believed, the armies of the Withered Aegis were able to enter the city of Rachival nearly untouched. The Gnomes of New Rachival claim that they were betrayed, that the machines they had built to defend the city turned on them at the last moment, opening the gates and allowing the Undead Hordes to enter the city unscathed.
If the rumor can be believed, then this traitor may be the greatest single threat to the Living Races in Istaria. Only time will tell if he or she is brought to justice. After the fall of Rachival, the Undead Hordes crushed the last remnants of the Gnomish army as it attempted to flee south. Shortly thereafter, the Gnomish state dissolved and the remaining refugees of the Gnomes made a desperate run for the safety of Tazoon.
To this day, the Gnomes have not been able to reform their state; most of their ancestral lands, including Rachival, are still under the domination of the Undead Horde. With the victory of the Living Races at the Battle of Tazoon and the subsequent Peace Accords signed by all the Living Races, however, the Gnomes stand their best chance ever to reclaim their lands and fully reestablish their seat of power.
The Gnomes of Rachival led the way in the mechanical arts, and their utilitarian applications to the arts of magic, and their city represented such. Rachival today, however, is a place of death and decay set against what was the apex of the Istarian fusion of technology and magic. Many of their innovations stand idle in the heart of what some scholars believe is one of the largest blight maelstroms found anywhere in Aradoth.
Some speculate that the inventions of the Gnomes have been twisted into aberrations of what their intent used to be, courtesy of the effects of the Realm of Blight. Little is known about the current state of the city itself, though those brave enough to venture close to the city share tales of the skies surrounding the city being constantly dark and thick with maelstrom fog. Some reports even describe twisted and nefarious metal constructs patrolling the lands surrounding the city.