Originally Posted by Reltzik
Gnomes: Gnomes believe in the elevation of the world through figurative levity, and its fall through figurative gravity. Seriousness and dourness sends the world spiraling towards destruction, and laughter and humor is the key to salvation. ...Their name for all the land (and the plane at large) is Old Stoneface, and the highest calling in their faith is to produce a joke or prank so amusing that Old Stone Faith (and thus the entire world) must laugh.
I think that this will get old very quickly. This way lies the madness of Kender. I think a better focus would be on Hope and Optimism rather than jokes. They may hold clowning in high regard but not everyone can be a comedian. You need to allow for more variety in an entire race than just saying they are all pranksters. The problem is that pranks are funny for the people they don't happen to. The other PCs in a party with a gnome are going to get irritated very quickly by the gnome's constant attempts to "cheer them up" with pranks and jokes. That's the exact opposite effect that you want.
But if the gnomes are just dedicated to Optimism, then they have a lot more options:
- The Clown: He doesn't take anything seriously and tries to keep everything lighthearted by downplaying the negatives. If he gets hurt in combat, he'll make action hero puns and quips like "I'm going to feel that one in the morning!" when taking a mace to the face or "Anyone got tweezers? I've got one heck of a splinter." when getting stuck with an arrow.
- The Daredevil: He's just thrilled to be alive. Is he scared to go into that cave and fight a dragon? Absolutely! But the adrenalin rush and the singed eyebrows make the cold beer back at the tavern for the apres-slay party taste that much better. Sure, slogging through a murky swamp in constant terror of being ambushed by lizardmen or poison monkeys is rather uncomfortable, but think of the stories! No one ever asked his grandkids "Did I ever tell you about the time nothing interesting ever happened to me?" Life was meant to be enjoyed, not endured!
- The Stoic: "Come now, chap. Stiff upper lip! We're going to be fine. What are the odds of this being what kills us? Do you really think this is anything compared to what we've already been through? After three thousand years of plagues, pogroms, wars, enslavement, earthquakes, famines, floods, droughts, and genocide... The gnomes... are still... HERE!"
- The Valiant: Gnomes are going to keep fighting against the darkness and they're going to win. Why? Because a gnome is never defeated. A gnome either wins or he retreats to regroup and plan a counterattack. A gnome can lose a battle on the day, but the war continues tomorrow and every day brings a new chance for victory. Gnomish triumph is inevitable because the gnomish spirit is indestructable.