Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gnomes as the Wee Folk

For those of you out there that are still interested in using Gnomes (Anyone? Anyone?) but believe that the race, as written on Pathfinder, doesn’t have its own niche, here’s my latest idea (there was also this, and this and that one… I believe I may be overreacting on this) – make them smaller.

Think about it: Pathfinder doesn’t have any official Tiny race. Of course, nothing can stop you from creating a PC-friendly version of Pixies – our usual suspects. However, these little fellows fly and usually have a strong suit of spell-like abilities – things like invisibility at will, sleep etc.

While a Tiny race is severely limited in certain aspects (martial power), they make excellent rogues and spellcasters. They also provide all kind of cool opportunities for players that like to use the surrounding environment to their favor.

I always felt that Pathfinder deserved one Tiny, one Large and one flying creature among its PC core races (I have already a flying race in mind that I hope to post soon). Instead of creating yet another humanoid race – or adapting a fey creature – it’s easy to take our basic Gnomes and miniaturize them. In my mind, as Tiny creatures their fey aspect would be highlighted.

Wee Folk (a.k.a. yet another Gnome variant)
Here’s the new Gnome (differences are in bold):

Ability Score Racial Traits: +4 Dexterity, +2 Charisma and –4 Strength. Gnomes are nimble and with strong – if eccentric – personalities.
Type: Gnomes are Humanoid creatures with the gnome subtype.
Size: Gnomes are Tiny creatures and thus gain a +2 size bonus to their AC, a +2 size bonus on attack rolls, a –2 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +8 size bonus on Stealth checks. However, they don’t possess natural reach and thus suffer an attack of opportunity from bigger opponents when engaging them in melee combat (unless they use a melee weapon with reach or ranged attacks). Because of their size, Gnomes must choose special Size Traits – pick one Good and one Detrimental trait.
Base Speed: Gnomes have a base speed of 30 feet.
Low-Light Vision: Gnomes can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.
Hatred: Gnomes receive a +1 bonus on attack rolls against humanoid creatures of the aberration type and goblinoid subtype because of their special training against these hated foes.
Fae Blooded: Gnomes are also considered of the Fey type against effects and receive a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy checks with creatures of the Fey type.
Sylvan Kin: Creature of the Animal, Magical Beast (Int 3 or less) and Plant (Int 3 or less) subtypes won’t attack a Gnome unless provoked or ordered to do so.
Illusion Resistance: Gnomes gain a +2 racial saving throw bonus against illusion spells and effects.
Keen Senses: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.
Obsessive: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on a Craft or Profession skill of their choice.
Gnome Magic: Gnomes add +1 to the DC of any saving throws against illusion spells that they cast. Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation, and speak with animals. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome's level. The DC for these spells is equal to 10 + the spell's level + the gnome's Charisma modifier.
Weapon Familiarity: Gnomes treat any weapon with the word “gnome” in its name as a martial weapon.
Languages: Gnomes begin play speaking Common, Gnome, and Sylvan. Gnomes with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, and Orc. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.

Commentaries: First, I removed Defensive Training, because our Gnomes aren’t the original dwarves’ cousins described in the original D&D. In this version they’re the Wee Folk, closer to Brownies, Leprechauns and Pixies than Dwarves. I replaced Defensive Training for the Fae Blooded and Sylvan Kin racial traits.
I increased their Speed to 30 only because I like the idea of a very small race that’s fast. It’s funny and (in disturbed) mind it fits their concept.
As Fey creatures I changed their racial enemies to aberration and goblins. Kobolds in D&D/Pathfinder are today something so radically different (little dragonspawan) from the original German myths (mining/underground spirits), that I took the liberty of removing them.

Tiny size Traits
Ok, actually this part of the post is the one responsible for the entire thing. I was just tinkering with house rules for races of different size or exotic shapes (here, here and here). The Tiny Gnomes was just a good excuse for implementing it.

Basically, instead of making specific racial traits to each Tiny race I created a few generic ones. Read them, pick one good and one detrimental trait.

Detrimental Traits
Squashed Like a Bug: When you suffer a critical hit by a Medium or bigger creature, your enemy receives a +4 bonus on the confirmation roll.
Puny: You never add a positive Strength modifier to attack rolls, damage modifiers, CMB, CMD and skill checks. You add negative modifiers normally. If you choose this trait, you can’t choose Quickling (see below).
Like Thunder: When you suffer sonic damage from a Medium or bigger creature’s innate attack (be it a spell-like, supernatural or extraordinary ability), you are either deafened (75%) or dazed and deafened (25%) for 1d6 rounds. A Fort save can negate this.

Good Traits
Quickling: Replace your Strength by your Dexterity modifier to attack rolls, CMB, CMD and skill checks. If you choose this trait, you can’t choose Puny (see above).
Half-Magic: Being so small has its benefits. You drink only half a potion and still gain its full benefits. The other half of the potion can only be consumed by you; it won’t work on other creatures.
Hard to Catch: You receive a +4 bonus to your CMD against Grapple attempts.

Other consequences of small matter
First of all, it’s amazingly easy to gain Cover. Because it’s so easy to block the enemy’s line of sight to you (get adjacent to a bigger ally, for example), that means that Tiny creatures have lots of opportunities to hide (and play havoc with their enemies later through surprise attacks).
Second, you require a lot less food and water. I believe the Gamemaster should read these rules with more attention in campaigns/adventures where there’re Tiny (or Large) PCs.

These two are obvious consequences (and I hope I’m not forgetting any other); now comes the part where I create special (house) rules for our Tiny heroes. These rules should apply to “normal” organic Tiny beings, like the Wee Folk above.

First, I’d grant them a +4 bonus to Swim checks and rule that the first 1d6 of falling damage is always non-lethal. Both assumptions are based on the idea that Gnomes are light, spindle-thin creatures. Actually, I’d also let a player spend a feat to slot to gain the ability to run on water (thematically it’s a really cool trait). As long as the Gnome keeps running (as in a charge action), he won’t sink.

Second, I’d allow them to make a Stealth check (contested against Perception) every time they touched a Medium or bigger creature. If they succeed, the target won’t notice the Gnome is touching them. This mean that you little prankster can literally climb adversaries, maybe hiding in their backpacks, cutting their belts, backstabbing them or stealing their stuff (I would require a Sleight of Hand check for this last action). A target that has a Gnome “attached” to him can only attack the Tiny target with unarmed attacks or light melee weapons (although hand crossbows and pistols would also apply, if the target is suicidal) – as if the target was limited by the Grappled condition. This last rule is a potentially powerful combo, but one that’s easily compensated by the Wee Folk physical weakness and the fact that, if discovered, he’d be in a dire situation.

Most important, use your good sense. For example: I believe I’d allow a Medium or Large target to pick and hold a Tiny-sized creature with just one hand – inflicting the Grappled Condition on him.