I make no apologies for being one of the people who threw a hissy fit when gnomes weren’t available as a player character race in the 4th Edition Player’s Handbook. My 2nd-even D&D character, back in 1st Edition D&D, was a gnome (and my first character shouldn’t even really count, because I only played him once). My all-time favorite D&D character, who for a while had his own in-character blog, was a gnome. So the exclusion of gnomes from the PHB was something I took very, very personally.
Hey, I understand that not everyone “gets” gnomes. They’re not halflings with pointy ears (a reference that makes less sense since halflings somehow developed pointy ears at some point). They’re not skinny dwarves, or short elves. There has always been plenty to differentiate them from other races, and they’ve always gotten cool stuff other than badgers. In writing Shaintar for Savage Worlds, Sean Patrick Fannon left gnomes out because he didn’t know what to do with them.
4th Edition Gnomes, now available in the Player’s Handbook 2, finally come into their own. I’m pleased with the treatment. They’re fey creatures, but they aren’t short Eladrin. They’re tricksters. They’re clever and sly and make up for their small size with some neat abilities. The coolest thing might be the way they get invisibility. It’s an Encounter Power, and a defense mechanism. When gnome takes damage, they turn invisible until the end of the next round, or until they strike, whichever comes first. I can see myself using that to good effect.
My initial offense at having to wait until Player’s Handbook 2 is tempered by the fact that this is in fact a core book and contains a lot of very cool stuff. Not just the missing Gnomes, Half-orcs, Bards, Barbarians, Druids and Sorcerers, but new Races and Classes and Paragon Paths and Feats and Rituals. I’ll be writing about those over the next few days.
Now I just need to speak to someone about bringing Illusionist back as it’s own Class…