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How to roleplay a gnome

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How to roleplaye
General guide
All the World's a Stage
 Alliance

Draenei
Dwarf
Gnome
Human
Night elf
Worgen

 Horde

Blood elf
Forsaken
Goblin
Orc
Tauren
Troll

 Both

Pandaren

Character typee
Criminal
Evil
Powerful
Villain

So you've decided to be a gnome. Good choice! Gnomes are easily the most fun Alliance race to roleplay. After all, we're crazy! Here are the basics about gnomes to get you started.

History

The origins of gnome kind are unknown. They may be related to dwarves. Gnomes were “discovered” by the dwarves, who invited them to live in Dun Morogh with them. The gnomes built Gnomeregan, a high-tech city in the mountains. The gnomes contributed technology and combatants to the Second War, and were decisive in securing victory. In the Third War, however, they did not help. The other races later found that the gnomes had been fighting to save their city from trogg invaders. Knowing that their allies are busy with the Scourge, they did not ask for help, but valiantly (perhaps foolishly) made their last stand alone. On the advice of his trusted advisor Mekgineer Thermaplugg, the High Tinker Gelbin Mekkatorque ordered that radioactive gas be released. Long story short, Gnomeregan was destroyed. The surviving gnomes now live in Tinker Town, the gnomish district of Ironforge, where they are constantly plotting to retake Gnomeregan.

  • Tip: Your character did not destroy Gnomeregan. I repeat, your character did not destroy Gnomeregan. If I had a dime for every gnome that claims this… well, I’d fashion the dimes into a weapon to kill them. YOU DIDN’T DESTROY GNOMEREGAN!
  • Tip: Gnomeregan was lost immediately before the time period of World of Warcraft, so your character would not have aged significantly since then. It's been at most 3 or 4 years. (Thanks, Everett)

Society

Gnomish society is largely unstructured. The gnomes have not had a king for centuries. Instead, the High Tinker is elected.

Gnomes do not have any particular religion. A few acknowledge the Light, and some gnomes believe that, like the dwarves, they trace their orgins to the Titans. However, the majority of gnomes eschew spirituality.

Family life is valued among gnomes, as among other races. However, a gnome does not define himself by his family. When a gnome reaches adulthood, he is expected to have made a name for himself (literally – see Names).

Names

Often, the hardest part of creating a character is selecting a good name. But with gnomes, it’s easy! Gnome parents name their children at birth, and the gnome takes on a family name that reflects the accomplishments of an ancestor. At adulthood, however, the gnome’s surname is changed to reflect his own accomplishments. Most gnomish names are compounds of two words. Some examples of gnome names:

  • Springspindle Fizzlegear
  • Gelbin Mekkatorque
  • Tally Berryfizz
  • Fizzlebang Booms
  • Wizzle Brassbolts
  • Tip: Although gnomes’ last names are more interesting, you should use your character’s first name as your in-game name. You can use FlagRSP or MyRoleplay to add your last name.

Age

Most roleplayers overlook their characters’ age. Sorry, but you don’t get much flexibility here. You need to pick an age for your character and act accordingly. That is, if you’re elderly, you’re probably not a great fighter, and if you’re young, you’re probably not very mature. Without further ado, here is the table of ages for gnomes:

Adulthood 40

Middle Age 100

Old Age 150

Lifespan 200


  • Tip: Gnomes live a long time, much longer than humans, orcs, trolls, and Tauren, but not quite as long as dwarves.

Speech

The heart of roleplaying is conversation, and it’s one of the hardest things to master. I shudder when I hear new roleplayers use antiquated English. Your character probably wouldn’t say “I smite thee, foul knave, for thou hast killest my dear father!” Only humans get to talk in fancy English, and even they shouldn’t take it that far. Gnomes do not talk like that. Ever.

Gnomes are rational thinkers, so they tend to be very prosaic. They don’t use fancy metaphors or figures of speech, just blunt (if sometimes convoluted) declaratory. They’re intelligent, so they have rich lexicons. However, they’re more than willing to bend the rules to get their point across. Long, crazy-sounding words are common, especially for gadgets. Gnomes are eccentric geniuses, so they tend to ramble. Picture that nerdy friend of yours after you ask a math question – he just goes on and on excitedly, and you can’t understand a word. That’s a good place to start. When a gnome starts talking about his work, he often gets carried away.

If you’re not confident in your mastery of gnomish speech, don’t worry. Just speak as you normally would and you’ll be fine. Just avoid sounding fancy – that’s for humans and people who don’t know what they’re doing.

  • Tip: When you’re ranting about technology, magic, science, etc., what you say doesn’t have to be real science – this is a fantasy game, and gnomes thrive on hyperbole. But astute players should be able to make enough sense of it to respond appropriately. Other gnome players, for example, will probably have their characters pretend to understand perfectly.

Dispositions

It may surprise you to learn that gnomes are extremely friendly and open minded to everyone they encounter. Since gnomes tend to be old, they act as almost parental figures to the other races, especially humans, and are always willing to help. It’s very difficult to dislike a gnome!

Dwarves

The gnomes’ closest allies, who gave them a place to build Gnomeregan, and now shelter the refugees. Though the dwarves are good engineers themselves, they get most of their better contraptions from the gnomes. They respect Dwarven technology to an extent. Call them average.

Humans

Gnomes have fought and died alongside humans, and are happy to participate in the human-led Alliance. Gnomes sometimes tend to treat short-lived humans as a primitive people that can benefit from their wisdom – whether they want it or not. Gnomes can consider Humans very brave on some occasions. Call them tall.

Night Elves

Gnomes and night elves have very little in common. Gnomes have no interest in ancient customs, nor in protecting nature. Elves disapprove of technology. Nevertheless, the easygoing gnomes treat elves with kindness and respect. Call them very tall!

The Horde

Gnomes still remember the injuries that orcs did them in the Second War. However, they don’t hold grudges. Gnomes have no issues with tauren or with trolls, though they don’t identify with their spiritual, shamanistic societies. They would probably fear Forsaken more and would treat Blood Elves like Night Elves.

Goblins

Gnomes and goblins are huge rivals. Sometimes the rivalry is friendly, other times it isn’t. As a gnome, your character will have nothing good to say about goblins, and will probably take every opportunity to impugn their ethics and their intellect. However, gnomes are respectful even to goblins. This will be fun at the release of Cataclysm!

Troggs

Gnomes really just don’t like troggs. Go figure. The subject of Troggs is often a sensitive one, and Allies are expected to respect this. This is hard as Gnomes seem nice and forgiving, wiping out their capital doesn't help. (If one gets angry while talking about it then it probably wasn't your fault.)

  • Tip: It may be difficult to exhibit in the game, but your gnome probably doesn’t have any motivation to fight the Horde, except to help the Alliance.
  • Tip: Gnomes are friendly to everyone, forgive readily, and rarely hold grudges, so be sure to take that into account when crafting your character’s personality. Of course that’s not set in stone, but if you want a bitter, angry character, you might be better with a human or elf. Or Horde.

Personality

Obviously, gnomes are brilliant. However, gnomes are not wise (Older gnomes may be a LITTLE wiser then the rest of them, but considering all the explosions and backfire, who knows how many gnomes get that old?). A typical gnome is an engineer who makes ingenious but impractical (probably dangerous) devices. That’s what makes gnomes fun to roleplay – they’re crazy! You can walk around doing absurd, dangerous things that fit your character perfectly.

Now, gnomes are still shrewd. A gnome will not be taken advantage of, and it’s very hard to deceive one. In a match of wits, the gnome always wins. Gnomes make excellent merchants when they apply themselves. It’s important to note though, that unlike goblins, gnomes are not greedy; they are utterly selfless and eager to please. If a profit can be had, so much the better.

Gnomes are practical, rational thinkers. Your gnome will probably not be fond of poetry or deep philosophical musing. When a human or elf starts waxing poetic, it would be perfectly acceptable to make a factual observation that completely ruins the moment. Gnomes, like dwarves, are not known for their subtlety or their tact.

  • Neon of Emerald Dream says: One thing I am cognizant of is that Gnomes love to tinker, and not just with technology. When a Gnome establishes a topic of interest, be it swordsgnomeship, arcane arts, history or even on rare occasions philosophy and religion, they meticulously endeavor to learn everything they can about their preferential topic and simultaneously attempt to advance their field of research through careful modifications to previous assumptions and radical departures from the accepted paradigm.

A note on meta-gaming: Gnomes are very smart, so it’s usually fine to assume your character knows things. However, make sure you’re consistent with their story – an orphan who was a baby when Gnomeregan fell and grew up wandering the streets probably wouldn’t know much about the history of the High Elves. And even if your gnome should be knowledgeable, you will often annoy other players if you seem to know too much. So use moderation.

Appearance

The number one question on any experienced roleplayer’s mind is “what should I wear?” Well, gnomes can be difficult to dress, since most clothes simply don’t look good on us. A long, flowing robe ends up looking silly, and gnomes in plate look funny (though cute). As a rule, gnomes should wear brightly colored clothing. Bonus points for matching it with your hair! A typical day-to-day outfit might be overalls (tailors can make a blue pair, or engineers can get the Mechgineer’s Overalls in Gnomeregan), goggles, and a wrench. Unfortunately I am not aware of any tool belts in game, but that would be a good idea too. Goggles are a gnomish trademark, so wear them! Of course your dress should mimic your lifestyle. An alchemist might wear a lab coat, and a historian might have a suit and monocle. If you can work in a wizard hat, those look fantastic too.

Gnomes approach fashion as they approach everything – the flashier, the better! When an occasion calls for a certain type of dress, take it to absurd extremes. A strange, attention-getting costume is the norm for gnomes.

A gnome can often be seen with a new contraption. I myself never go out in public without my mechanical squirrel. Exploding sheep are also a fine accessory. All gnomes should ride mechanostriders or the mounts they have invented. If you ride around on a horse, ram, or cat, you are a filthy traitor. That is all.

Classes

Warrior

Gnome warriors are absolutely uncharacteristic, since warriors tend not to be very intellectual, and gnomes are tiny. But that’s what makes them awesome! There is nothing better than a tiny gnome in heavy plate armor smashing something with a gigantic mace. Of course, warriors are not completely absurd for gnomes – someone has to do the fighting, after all. I imagine a gnome would consider combat a science in its own right. There’s plenty of room for creativity here, so go for it. Wearing metal goes with the flow though as Gnome are obviously natural metal workers and Tinkers.

Warrior gnomes could be considered a more recent phenomena, as the recent fall of Gnomeregan sparked an increase of gnome warriors looking to defend and liberate their homeland. You could also talk about how metal armor works, modifications you have made to your equipment, and hint that you know where every pressure point on the human (or something else) body.

Rogue

Again, a physical combat class. But gnomes are actually very well suited to be rogues – they’re tiny! Gnomes have exceptional dexterity and sneakiness. They can be subtle when they really want to be. As a gnome rogue, you’re perfectly suited to be a pickpocket, a professional safecracker, a spy (with spy gadgets of course!), or a criminal mastermind. Just remember, most gnomes are friendly and honest by nature. If the thought of a nice rogue repulses you, you’ll have to justify the change in personality somehow. Gnomes can go bad, they'd be better running a crime gang than stealing from their guild. Use the brain.

Neon of Emerald Dream says: As my uncle always used to say, "all gnomes are rogues at heart." Even if not all of us have mastered the technique of stealth, every Gnome has the capacity to hide in places that no other race can reach, move behind obstacles without detection, and show up when they are least expected.

Mage

A gnome makes an excellent mage. Mages rely on sheer brilliance, and gnomes have plenty of it. As a gnome mage, your character can prattle endlessly about magic (“when the crystals are aligned parallel to the focus of electromagical potential, the cross-dimensional energy impulses will converge…”). Mages are also nice because size doesn’t matter in the slightest, only mental prowess. Think Yoda. Gnomes also delight in blowing things up, so make liberal use of fire. Plus you can wear brightly coloured cloth and augment it with engineering to look like a robot.

Warlock

Ah, the gnome warlock. Could anything be more perfect? Combine an eccentric and prodigiously gifted race with a depraved and corrupting class, and you get a whole lot of fun! A gnome warlock can be absolutely insane. If you want to roleplay an evil genius, be a gnome warlock. A warlock is essentially a corrupted mage. When a magic user is overzealous and goes too far (gee, what race does that sound like?), he becomes addicted to magic, and can be an unwitting pawn to the energies he tried to master. Of course, a gnome warlock doesn’t have to be corrupt. In fact, if any race could successfully master summoned demons, the gnomes would do it. It's not as respected as mage so keep this in mind when talking to others.

  • Tip: Warlocks don’t have to be evil. In fact, most gnome warlocks are not.

Priests

Alongside other caster classes, Gnomes are also suited for being followers of the holy light, labled as Priests. Gnome Priests became popular about the time the Cataclysm came. Most Gnomes though it was time to invest magic for allied benefit, rather for damaging purposes. It was then, that some Gnomes followed the light (under the supervision of the Dwarves, no doubt.) Gnomes Priests will follow the light, like most Priests, and would discuss how it feels to finally be able to take back Gnomeregan. Throw in a few DPS classes and a tank, and you have a full group ready to kick ass!

Death Knights

Even though Gnomes are small, they're still fierce looking as Death Knights. Playing as a Death Knight would result in your character showing "GNO-MERCY" to other classes, specifically Paladins and Priests. Gnomes will scoff at their fellow brethern, mocking their immortality and follish ways of going towards the light. Gnomes might like to talk about how Gnomeregan would not have fallen, if only the Lich King had saved them sooner.

Monks

With the edition of Mists of Pandaria, Gnomes were recently taught the ways of the Monk from one of the Pandaren.

Professions

Engineering

Gnomes and engineering go together like bread and butter. Engineering should be your first choice of profession for any gnome character. Of course, there’s absolutely no reason that you can’t roleplay most aspects of engineering, even without being an engineer. You should make liberal use of explosives and gadgets. The more exotic the gadget, the better. Designing and building a weird new contraption is a classic gnome storyline.

Gnome engineers sometimes run into problems with god-moding. Gnomes are brilliant engineers, and can do extraordinary things. There is absolutely no contradiction with Warcraft lore when gnomes make absurd contraptions – look at mechanostriders, death rays, nuclear reactors, giant killer robots. But be careful not to be obnoxious. If you’re always producing the perfect device at the perfect time, other players will get annoyed. Now, I must admit I’m guilty of this myself (“Zappie takes out her GnomeTech Shadowmeld-Resistant Night Elf Containment System.” or “A GnomeTech Arcane Nullifier Drone enters and places a reflective shield on Zappie.”). But I’m ok with that. I make it work for my character, and those I play with know what to expect, and not to take me too seriously. Gnomes are fun, after all! Just be warned. It should be noted, that your devices shouldn't always succeed, as a gnome if a super safe bandage dispenser explodes and burns off your hair, try and try again. Also going to a barber shop after detonation or mishap with your personal devices makes for interesting RP, as can using dynamite as a "failed invention"!

Alchemy

Also a good choice, since it’s a science. Gnomes should treat alchemy more like chemistry, whereas elves would probably treat it as a more magical art. A gnome will probably ramble about alchemy just as he’d rave about engineering or magic (“If I can procure a sample of partially deionized arcanite extract, it will nullify the ascorbic viscosity of the moonberry juice!”). Alchemy goes well with the mad scientist motif. Jeckel and Hyde anyone? However keep in mind that the Goblins have a bonus to Alchemy.

Enchanting

Another very gnomish profession. Gnomes are experts with magic, and so they make brilliant enchanters. I would predict that enchanting has less creative potential than engineering or alchemy for roleplaying, but it’s certainly a viable choice.

Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Tailoring

These are not gnomish specialties. Gnomes are good at them of course, because they’re skilled artisans in general. You can absolutely roleplay a professional tailor or a skilled smith, and do so with plenty of success. They’re just less common choices for gnomes.

Jewelcrafting and Inscription

Not particularly gnomish either. However, the sheer number of things you can make with the same materials suggests that these professions require extreme precision, so working mathematical and especially geometric terms into professional discussion would add a gnomish element to them. They also tend to be more creative fields than the others, so consider roleplaying an eccentric artist.

Fishing

I have nothing to say about gnomes and fishing, except that you should be careful not to get caught on a fish hook. You would look funny fishing though. Please refrain from getting eaten by larger fish and shore creatures (It would look rather bad if your character met his end by being eaten by a turtle or a pissed off Frenzy)

Cooking

Gnomes approach cooking much like they approach engineering. They’re constantly trying new and strange things. At gnome parties, each guest brings a dish to share, and they all try to outdo each other. There are inevitably some absurd dishes. That is of course enormously fun for roleplayers! If you go to a party, don't bring a death ray.

First Aid

Gnomes are very good with first aid, since they’re constantly injuring themselves.

  • Tip: Gnomes are the only race in the game that can’t play healers (Until Cataclysm). From a roleplaying perspective, gnomes practice medicine as a science, rather than using magical or spiritual healing. Plus it would help with engineering mishaps. Although be wary of a situation like this ...Gnome 1: MY ARM!!! IT CUT OFF MY ARM!!! Gnome 2: Relax, we have FROSTWEAVE BANDAGES!!! Gnome 1: WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH YOU!? in a situation similar to that, just run for a priest.


I hope this guide has been helpful providing the basics of gnome roleplay. Gnomes are great because to play them successfully, all you have to do is have fun! And that’s what roleplay is truly about

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