Excerpts 08/07/2004


Races of Stone
By David Noonan, Jesse Decker, Michelle Lyons



Any race that spends its time living in the earth or atop its mountains is potentially a race of stone. This book focuses on three races of great interest to players and DMs: the dwarves and their vast underground communities, the burrow-dwelling gnomes, and the goliaths, nomadic mountain-dwellers. Along with detailed discussions of their cultures, equipment, magic, and feats, discover new gnome and dwarf subraces such as the dream dwarf and whisper gnome, plus other races of stone. Be ye warned, however: Not everyone is friendly -- this book also details the stone drake and other classic enemies, and inspirations for creating entire campaigns of stone.

From Chapter 4: Other Races of Stone

Whisper Gnome

Whisper gnomes outwardly resemble common gnomes, but they lack the jovial nature and easy outlook on life that their more common relatives enjoy. Instead, whisper gnomes are creatures of stealth and suspicion. In profession and behavior, they range from dangerous spies to peaceful recluses. Few members of other races can match a whisper gnome's powers of stealth, and whisper gnome scouts and rangers always stalk any creatures that come within a few miles of their hidden hillside communities.

Whisper gnomes reluctantly ally themselves with common gnomes and other races when necessary. They know that they lack the physical strength and numbers to stand completely on their own.

Personality: Whisper gnomes are quiet, suspicious sorts who find it hard to build lasting relationships with members of other races. Although no other race is openly friendly with these reclusive individuals, no race bears them active malice either. Often, whisper gnomes share information about impending threats when allying themselves with more powerful or numerous humanoid races; in most cases, this arrangement has worked out extremely well for both sides. If the whisper gnomes' allies find themselves short of a few valuables after the gnomes have left their community, the losses are offset by the whisper gnomes' valuable scouting and information-gathering abilities.

Physical Description: Whisper gnomes are slightly taller than other gnomes, standing between 3-1/2 and 4 feet tall. Whisper gnomes are skinny, almost gaunt creatures, and rarely weigh more than 40 pounds. Their skin ranges in color from light gray to light green, although none of this variation in skin tone is noticeable without careful attention. Whisper gnomes have gray or blue eyes, but again they are rarely bright or striking in intensity.

Relations: Many other humanoid races regard whisper gnomes as they would an untrustworthy cousin -- they know that whisper gnomes are unlikely to do any lasting harm or steal their most precious items, but at the same time, they deserve to be watched carefully. Dwarves in particular distrust whisper gnomes; these serious and stoic individuals let whisper gnomes into their cities only under the direst of circumstances.

Elves, humans, and half-elves generally tolerate whisper gnomes. Of all the other races, halflings are the most accepting of whisper gnomes, and many whisper gnomes travel for a time with halfling caravans.

Half-orcs and whisper gnomes get along very well. Whether because the two races are such opposites that they end up respecting the other's strengths, or because they both often find themselves outcasts from other races, they seem to enjoy each other's company and approach to life. Half-orcs with nowhere else to go occasionally settle in a whisper gnome community.

Alignment: Most whisper gnomes are neutral or neutral good. Whisper gnomes favor personal freedom and choice, but at the same time they value an ordered community and respect the rights of others and -- to an extent -- the property of others.

Whisper Gnome Lands: Whisper gnomes live in and among the communities of more common gnomes, or they form small, carefully hidden communities of their own. They favor the rolling hills and light woods that other gnomes enjoy, and like their distant cousins, they live underground.

Whisper gnomes who want a more active lifestyle settle in human lands and find work as spies, emissaries, or as simple thieves.

Religion: Whisper gnomes pay homage to Garl Glittergold, but many also venerate Olidamarra. Whisper gnomes are very open-minded about religion, and they find the single-minded religious devotion of other races strange and confining. Most whisper gnomes believe it expedient to pay attention to whatever deity can help them the most in their current situation, and they do not see it as strange to frequently pray to different deities.

Language: Whisper gnomes speak Gnome, which uses the Dwarven alphabet. Most whisper gnomes also speak Terran, and they sometimes use that tongue as a sort of semisecret code when in the company of other races.

Names: Whisper gnomes consider names as semipermanent aliases at best, and one usually goes by a different name in each nongnome community he or she visits. When among other gnomes (of any kind), whisper gnomes usually stick to the names given to them by their parents. Whisper gnome family names are similar to, but not exactly like, the clan names of common gnomes.

Male Names: Alth, Fash, Threan.

Female Names: Bella, Freith, Geim, Mala, Nan.

Family Names: Bermin, Daergel, Falath, Shrenan.

Adventurers: Whisper gnome adventurers travel to test themselves. They seek not only to try out their powers of speed and stealth against the physical strength of larger creatures, but also to test their own moral limits. Many adventuresome whisper gnomes know that they are capable of stealing from humans and other creatures that can't hope to compete with their powers of stealth, and they seek some rationale for why they shouldn't take advantage of this superiority.

Whisper Gnome Racial Traits

+2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, -2 Strength, -2 Charisma: Whisper gnomes are agile and tough, but they are Small and therefore not as strong as larger humanoids. Their quiet nature also leads to a lack of personal presence.

Small: As a Small creature, a whisper gnome gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but he uses smaller weapons than humans use, and his lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.

Whisper gnome base land speed is 30 feet, despite their size.

Low-Light Vision: A whisper gnome can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

Darkvision: Whisper gnomes can see in the dark out to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and whisper gnomes can function just fine with no light at all.

Weapon Familiarity: Whisper gnomes treat gnome hooked hammers as martial weapons rather than exotic weapons.

+1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids (including goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears): Like their more common cousins, whisper gnomes battle these creatures frequently and practice special techniques for fighting them.

+4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against monsters of the giant type (such as ogres, trolls, and hill giants): This bonus represents special training that whisper gnomes undergo, during which they learn tricks that previous generations developed in their battles with giants. Any time a creature loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class, such as when it's caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too. The Monster Manual has information on which creatures are of the giant type.

+4 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks: Whisper gnomes have an uncanny knack for stealth.

+2 racial bonus on Listen and Spot checks: Whisper gnomes have keen eyes and ears.

Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day -- silence (must be centered on whisper gnome's body). A whisper gnome with a Charisma score of at least 10 also has the following spell-like abilities: 1/day -- ghost sound, mage hand, message. Caster level 1st; save DC 10 + whisper gnome's Cha modifier + spell level.

Favored Class: Rogue. The best multiclass choices for whisper gnome rogues are fighter, ranger, and cleric. A fair number of whisper gnome wizards and sorcerers become arcane tricksters.

Racial Feats: The Extra Silence and Silencing Strike feats can be taken by whisper gnome characters (see Chapter 6: Character Options).

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