Wargame Wednesday: Which is Your Favorite Gnome?

Wednesday , 3, April 2019 14 Comments

Unlike my prior posts on orcs and elves I don’t have a nomination readily at hand.

I have to admit my surprise as the concept of gnomes in a fantasy setting (wargame, fiction or film) is something that has always interested me but I’m coming up short.  All I can offer is gnomes in early D&D (alchemist NPC or illusionist player character) and maybe a cameo appearance in Jack Vance’s Dying Earth.

I hope CH blog readers are more learned in Gnomic lore than I…

What I can offer are the excellent gnomes from Splintered Light Miniatures. I’m over half way done painting an army set and as the figures near completion I’m glad I have finally addressed the lack of gnome representation on my gaming table. Since Splintered Light specializes in a wide range of fantasy and Dark Age figures I’ll incorporate the gnome version of “Which is Your Favorite…” under this week’s Wargame Wednesday banner.

If you want to see the gnomes done in a professional paint job, click on the army set link above. The set does not come with the gnome “cavalry” (snail riders) or Splintered Light’s interpretation of gnome artillery (flower catapults).  My gnomes have been recruited for serious business and will not need the snail or flower auxiliaries.

The figures have excellent detail and are sold with a minimum of sprue remnants or poorly balanced figures.  This was a good deal as there are 26 15mm gnome figures plus 10 large, nasty looking mushrooms for $25. Add the $7 shipping rate (U.S. / $22 international) and each figure/mushroom sells for less than $1.


While conducting research for other projects I’m finding rumors and old traditions of gnome involvement in various wars.  I’m focusing on vague references to a Teutoburg Forest type massacre of an orc regiment sent on a flanking maneuver through gnome territory.  More on that later.


Gnome Wars – Australian Light Cavalry

Found Gnome Wars miniatures and a rule set from Brigade Miniatures. Seems the rule set and game universe has Gnomes fighting WW1.  Here is a link to a true Gnome fan and it looks like quite a few gamers are interested in this little known aspect of the First World War. I’m digging the Sikh gnomes charging German trenches in that last link.

For D&D and role playing games check out Dragon Magazine #61.  Long time Dragon editor Roger Moore has two articles in there.  One on the gnomish “point of view” or basic gnome ethnology according to Roger and another on gnome theology, both based on his well referenced readings of D&D rules.

There is still a terrible lack of knowledge concerning Gnome ethnology here at the CH blog so I will probably revisit the topic.

Thanks to T. Everett mentioning Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International Gangsta Gnomes.


Off topic – The Battle of the Bulge series continues on my blog as the Germans approach St. Vith.

  • T. Everett says:

    The first ones that come to mind for me are Larry Correia’s MHI Gangsta Gnomes.

  • It’s hard to pick just one.

  • Eric Ashley says:

    In my Dragonhunt setting in The Temple of the Dying Sun module/setting, I took the DnD idea of gnomes as crazy techies and had gnomes riding hydrofoil catamaran sailboats across the Pirate Sea. Sometimes, they tipped and everyone died. Thems the breaks. Oh well. Lets build another catamaran…

  • Clark says:

    Didn’t know there are different kinds of gnomes!? Different roles (jobs), but not distinct kinds between games.

    There have been quite a variety of orcs or elves, i.e. small/big, short/tall, wood/high/marine, etc.

    What are some examples of different types of gnomes?

    • Scott Cole says:

      I get your point, gnomes are basically, gnomes…but a Jack Vance gnome will be significantly different than a John C. Wright version.

      Unfortunately, never played a Forgotten Realms campaign but this link has some forest, hill and underground types: https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Gnome

      • Clark says:

        Thank you for the info, the link and expanding my imagination’s inventory.

        Sure enough, someone has come up with different types, i.e. Forest, Rock, Marine, etc.

        Forest has been my default gnome, but now need to think about “favorite”. High elves are my favorite. Were they a D&D thing? I don’t remember.

        I think ‘favorite’ would be based on their abilities. Do wood gnomes have “ranger” type skills or something more specific to woodland magic (stealth, talking to animals, silence, etc.)

        That was your original question. Which game system has our favorite gnome? Sounds like a new quest to me.

        • Scott Cole says:

          Not sure where High Elves came from. Early D&D monster manual has the following: aquatic, drow, gray, half-elf and wood elves. It may have come from D&D as Gray Elf (Faerie) are: “noble elves” of the “rarest and most powerful of their kind”.

          Ultimately, for any fantasy race or creature it is really up to you. There are no specific wood gnomes in early D&D (correct me if I’m wrong) but no reason you can’t play a gnome character as one (question is if the DM will allow special abilities).

          This is where I believe miniature wargaming has an advantage. Play a board game but definitely play a computer game and the gamer is limited by the game design. Paint up a bunch of miniatures and your gnomes can be wood gnomes, river gnomes (I pained some of mine blue), or whatever you like.

  • John E. Boyle says:

    Fascinating. I’ve never used gnomes in any game system nor in my fiction. I guess I could never see the point in using them when either dwarves or brownies could serve the same purpose.

    High Elves was a term used by Tolkien to refer to the Noldo or Vanyar elves. Gnomes were popularized by the D&D and possibly Tunnels & Trolls game systems. Other games such as Chaosium’s RuneQuest didn’t use gnomes at all.

    • Eugine Nier says:

      Fun fact. Gnomes were Tolkien’s original name for the Noldor.

      • John E. Boyle says:

        And thank you so much for putting the whole of Middle Earth just a little off kilter.

        “Celebrimbor, Gnomish Master…”…nope.
        “Galadriel, most beautiful of all the Gnomes”…not doing it for me.
        “Ecthelion of the Fountain, greatest of all Gnomish warriors”… No, that’s not gonna work either.

        I wonder if Eddison’s Worm Ouroborus had anything to do with that?

        • Scott Cole says:

          Not sure about Eddison but ran across this quote from the Tolkiengateway wiki: “The word likely comes from genomos “earth-dweller”. It has a similarity with Greek γνώσις gnosis “knowledge” which is why Tolkien used it for the wise clan of his Elves (Quenya Ñoldo “the Wise”).[source?]

          Cf. also the Mannish word nóm meaning “wisdom”.”

  • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:

    Gnomes always seemed redundant in any fantasy that involved Dwarves or Halflings. Consequently, I’ve never used them. Nor have I had a player ask to play one.

    Correia’s gnomes are probably the most entertaining.

  • CarlosPaw says:

    Gnomes are spot on!

  • David says:

    The two D&D settings that did the most with gnomes were:

    1) Dragonlance, where they played small roles in the first two trilogies and were defined as being inventors with meticulous and elaborate planning for their inventions which never quite work correctly.

    2) Mystara, a lesser known setting which embraced the concept of fantasy physics and released a game book where gnomes control a flying city and protect it with World War 1 biplanes that shoot lightning and synchronized crossbows.


    The old Warhammer Fantasy Battle world did have a few gnomes, though they never got their own army list, just a few mentions and individual characters here and there.

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