The Imperial Wrecking Crew
Gnomes are prolific inventors. Their creations spend most of the time under construction or in committee. Outsiders would tell you that these devices rarely work, and are hideously dangerous either way.
Gnomes indicate that there are only 5 devices ever to pass committee, and each one managed under only the most extraordinary circumstances.
Player Characters Thoughts on Gnomes
“Busy little guys, they talk too fast but are wonderful hosts and courageous in battle. Their contraptions when they work, are delightful.”- Ciara of Dunbar
“Curious little people, of refined taste, despite their dislike of wine, short attention span, but appreciative audience. Their ability to create is beyond words, and their inventions somewhat frightening. Playing with gnomish device is a perilous and often life threatening adventure.” – The Great Roy O’Bannon
“Small, yappy, libel to be stepped on by accident. Sometimes make things that work, usually make things that work at exploding at inappropriate times.” – Gregor Von Strašen
Secrets of the Tinker Gnomes
Gnomes insist their inventions always work. Frighteningly, they’re right. However, a given device is upgraded faster than its component parts can be created. A complete Gnomish device must “pass all committees”. A committee vote must be unanimous to pass, and all committees assigned to a project must pass for it to be complete. Due to individual Gnomes having multiple committee seats, combined with rapid changes in membership, passing typically comprises 100x as many votes as actual, living gnomes.
An Indopanese blacksmith and weapon smith visited gnomish town to get some ideas, he came under a false flag of truce and knowledge. He marveled at some of the things he saw (especially a small hot air filled sack that floated) and he came back with an army and mages who took control of the gnomes and enslaved them. Now with out the constant committee and improvement and safety requirements the devices are being put to use with their inborn entropy and spheres of chaos being tightly held in check with dangerous experimental magics. The Indopanese have been subjugating this knowledge for some time now and are using it to return to their native homeland of Krondor and aiding them in a war with the empire of Dunbar.
_Gnomes within this campaign conform closely to Krynnish Tinker Gnomes – This was pulled straight from the book Tinker Gnomes (Minoi)
These unique creatures, native to the DRAGONLANCE® world of Krynn, are among the most technologically . . . er, perhaps we should say ‘innovative’ creatures among the known worlds. Unfortunately, their keen and inventive motivation is not matched by any particular talent – thus, a Tinker invention is at least as likely to cause harmful or fatal damage (probably to its creator) as it is to do what it’s supposed to do. In spite of this, Tinkers are a thriving subrace that have even managed to spread beyond their native world.
“They’re not real gnomes, of course – don’t know how anyone could think that they are! ‘Course, they might look like us, and sound like us—but that’s as far as it goes. There’s not an illusionist among ‘em, nor anyone else who’s got a useful skill to his name, far as I can tell. Fact is, they’re a menace!
“As for getting into space, that must have been luck. One of ‘em invented something that actually worked – a fluke, I assure you – and launched ‘em into the stars. The only reason they’re still up here is they haven’t figured out how to get back down again.
“And if you ever see one of those ships of theirs, you’d know what I mean. It’s got catapults that shoot nothing but air, gears and propellers that spin to no good purpose, and if you get close to it a blast of steam is liable to shoot out and barbecue you before you can say ‘get me outta here!’”
- Kappelheim Gladdensnoot, famed Rock Gnome explorer and Spelljammer extraordinaire
The Tinkers are a very courageous and curious bunch of gnomes, and Gladdensnoot is no doubt exaggerating when he suggests that their attainment of Spelljamming travel is accidental. Nevertheless, he provides a good example of the attitude held by those few other gnomes who’ve encountered the Tinkers. Of course, it’s not likely that the Tinker would stop and take notice—he or she is probably too busy working on the finishing touches of his or her newest invention (in fact, many Tinkers spend the bulk of their lives working on a few such ‘finishing touches’)!
In one respect the Tinkers resemble the rest of gnomedom—in the fact that they do value various types of stones, attributing to them great and supernatural powers. However, whereas the other subraces seek gems, the Tinkers hold a different substance as the grandest rock of all: coal. The Tinkers hold that coal (also known as the “Father of Steam”) is the most valuable substance of the world, and those places where it can be mined quickly become Tinker Gnome warrens.
In size and stature, the Tinkers resemble Rock Gnomes—so much so that the difference is not immediately apparent, at least when based only upon appearance. Perhaps because their numbers are fewer, there is not such a variety of hair and skin color among Tinkers as is found in their more common cousins: their hair is almost always white or a slightly colored shade that is nearly white. Their skin tends toward brown, in ruddy and earthen shades. Their eyes are blue or, less frequently, violet, but the noses are every bit as prominent as those of any other gnomish subrace.
The clothing of a Tinker is likely to be representative of his or her travels and background—i.e., it will have parts of all kinds of things somehow attached together and providing a modicum of covering. As a rule, the more exotic the better, though the Tinker Gnomes tend to be fastidious about cleanliness.
Tinkers who live out their lives can attain an age of 250 or 300 years, but it must be noted that this is a rare occurrence among the members of this subrace. If one of his or her own inventions doesn’t do a Tinker in, chances are good that one of his or her neighbor’s gadgets will.
Even in childhood, Tinkers are encouraged to experiment with gadgets and gimmicks, trying different means of making things to perform tasks that could otherwise be easily done by hand. The Tinker reaches adulthood at about the age of fifty (by which time perhaps 10-15% of them have already succumbed to the common fate of their kind). Despite this high attrition, it’s not until maturity that a Tinker Gnome’s activities begin to get really dangerous.
Upon reaching adulthood, the Tinker Gnome must select a guild for himself or herself. The number of guilds available varies by location, but in Mount Nevermind on Krynn-
which is the center of Tinker civilization and by far the largest community of these inventive creatures anywhere-there are more than 150 active guilds. These include virtually all areas of practical endeavor, and quite a few impractical ones as well: Weaponry, Steam Power, Hydraulics, Mathematics, Agriculture, Warmaking, Animal Taming, Brewing, Carpentry, Astronomy, Ceramics (Rockmaking), Air Utilization, Historians, Coalmining, Rockcarving, Vehicle Design, and Music.
These guilds are not like the guilds common in many human and dwarven societies, however; in the latter cases, the guild’s purpose is generally to impart the knowledge of the masters to a steadily growing crop of apprentices and journeymen. The Tinker guilds have a different philosophy dedicated to a righteously-held belief, to wit: whatever has been done before can be done better with a new and improved invention. Consequently, a Tinker Gnome who enters the Music Guild, for example, will spend the bulk of his or her life trying to design a musical instrument with at least one more moving part than the last instrument designed by a guildmaster (it is not advisable to ask the guild for a performance—whole audiences have been scalded by ruptured steam pipes or deafened by ultrasonic waves of crushing sound).
A good example of the Tinker Gnome tendency of not knowing when to stop is the infamous Giant Space Hamster. Not content with this remarkable achievement, the Animal Breeders’ Guild that created the creature promptly began working on developing new strains. The result include such monstrosities as the sabre-toothed giant space hamster, the carnivorous flying giant space hamster (“a regrettable if understandable line of inquiry”), the fire-breathing phase doppleganger giant space hamster, and the miniature giant space hamster (a dwarf variant the exact same size as the ordinary rodent).
However, Tinkers are nothing if not tenacious. After selecting a guild, each member of the subrace settles upon a Life-quest. The actual choice of the quest may take several decades, but once it has been decided, it becomes the reason behind that Tinker’s existence. The Lifequest is an attempt to reach a perfect understanding of some device (anything from a spelljamming helm to a screw), a task at which the Tinker very rarely succeeds. Indeed, the best estimate is that less than 1% of these gnomes ever do fully grasp the nature of the object that has occupied their attention for so much of their adult lives; the rest of these easily-distracted gnomes get hopelessly sidetracked somewhere along the way.
Despite the vagaries of their existence, the Tinkers are a fun-loving and generally sociable race. Their speech is unique in both its speed and complexity. Two Tinkers can rattle off information and opinion to each other in a succession of thousand-word sentences, speaking simultaneously and yet listening and understanding (as much as is possible, given the esoteric nature of many discussions) each other even as they voice their own points of view. Those Tinkers who have had some experience interacting with other races have learned to slow the pace of their communication but never quite overcome their frustration with those who can’t talk and listen at the same time.
Despite the chaotic impression given by an initial encounter with the Tinkers, these gnomes have a highly-organized societal structure. Their culture is unusual, for gnomes, in that guilds are more important to most Tinkers than their clans; the typical Tinker identifies himself or herself not by the family he or she was born into but the guild he or she joined upon reaching adulthood. The community is ruled by a council made up of the masters of the various guilds and the patriarchs of the various clans. The result is a paralyzed bureaucracy that nevertheless keeps itself going with debate, argument, near resolution, and subsequent disagreement. Following long and careful consideration (sometimes lasting for years, even decades) the various concerned parties go off and do whatever they wanted to from the beginning.
However, the debates themselves can be well-reasoned, extremely polite, and quite extensive. Just the recital of names at the beginning of a presentation can often take weeks, since the full and formal title of each gnome involved is used—and remember, this is despite the fact that Tinker Gnomes speak very rapidly indeed! For those Tinkers who come from extensive and well-documented ancestry and have themselves lived long and eventful lives, the formal introduction can last the better part of two days. Because of this inconvenience, an abbreviated form of a gnome’s name (usually taking less than a minute to recite) is used in daily life.
Tinker Gnomes have the least involved family life of any of the subraces, since all adults are too involved with their Lifequests to devote much time to the raising of their children. The youngsters learn mostly by example, and of course are possessed of that insatiable curiosity that seems to take the place of so many other emotions in the lives of a Tinker. Tinker males and females accept their Lifequests with equal obsession; there is no difference between the sexes in level of recognition and attainment. For example, guildmasters and clan leaders are as likely to be female as male.
Their communities are located underground, but always close to the surface, with plenty of access to fresh air. Their penchant for burning coal to achieve steam makes good ventilation necessary—we needn’t dwell on the unfortunate results of those experiments in deep subterranean quarters amid caverns warmed by vast, oxygen-devouring furnaces.
The various chambers of a Tinker community will be connected by various means of transport, powered by steam, spring-power, wind, water, gravity, and any other means available. Types include cars that run along rails or are suspended from cables and pulleys, soaring gliders, `gnomeflingers’ (i.e., catapults), elevators that run up and down through shafts bored through rock, and independently-steered carts and cycles propelled by various means. Needless to say, there is a high rate of attrition on gnomish transport—generally a character stands about a 3% chance per trip of suffering grievous injury (usually about 1-12 hit points of damage).
For private living quarters, Tinkers are inclined to settle for any old niche in the wall that can be closed off for a little privacy. They like to sleep in absolute darkness but have absolutely no trouble slumbering amid a thunderous cacophony of noise.
Far more important than his or her bedroom, to a Tinker, is his or her workshop. This area will be a private chamber, if the gnome is influential enough to warrant such a luxury, or if he or she inherits it from a deceased parent (for obvious reasons, Tinkers tend to gain their inheritance at a far younger age than do any other gnomish subrace). The shop should ideally be well-lit, by candle, coal-oil lantern, or natural light. One of the more successful gnome inventions is a network of mirrors aligned to reflect sunlight through long tunnels so that it reaches caverns far underground. Despite its utility, this invention is considered an abysmal failure by most Tinkers, due to its utter lack of moving parts.
Tinker Gnomes do not worship the usual gnomish pantheon, instead venerating the Krynnish god Reorx, patron of blacksmiths, crafters, and inventors. One of the oft-repeated pieces of evidence Rock Gnomes are wont to put forward in their neverending attempts to prove that Tinkers aren’t “real” gnomes is that “they haven’t even heard of Garl Glittergold!”
Additional details on the Tinker Gnomes can be found under the entry for “Gnome” in the DRAGONLANCE® appendix to the MONSTROUS COMPENDIUM® accessory (MC4).
Table 3: Tinker Gnome Ability Scores
Ability Score Adjustments: +2 to Dexterity;
-1 to Strength; -1 to Wisdom
Languages: Tinker Gnome, Gnome Common, various human tongues
Infravision: Yes (60’)
Special Features: Tinker Gnomes share many of the same special abilities as their Rock Gnome cousins, a fact which has led some sages to argue that Tinker Gnomedom is a culture rather than a true subrace. Whatever the truth, all Tinkers have the following innate abilities.
Detect Underground Features—Tinker Gnomes can identify sloping passages (1-5 on 1d6), flawed stonework (1-7 on 1d10), and approximate depth (1-4 on 1d6) and direction (1-3 on 1d6) underground.
Magic Resistance—The Tinker Gnome gains a +1 bonus to his or her saving throws versus spell for every 3.5 points of Constitution. Combat Bonuses—Tinker Gnomes receive a -4 bonus to their Armor Class when attacked by giant class creatures.