Iron Gnomes reside in a massive stone and metal fortress located deep beneath the Ironbeak Mountains. They consider themselves the marshals of the Deep Refuge and one of the few lines of defense between the surface world and the horrors of the deep underground caverns. Iron Gnomes live in a meritocracy in which every Gnome is born equal with the potential to rise above the lowest station. Because survival is so difficult, each Gnome is expected to find where they best fit into the Iron Gnome society and provide a valuable and productive service to the rest of the clan.
Being one of two of the oldest races in the region, the Iron Gnomes religious beliefs are influenced by that. Their Dogma is rather simple, believing that the entire world and all the life within was created at the behest of the four Primordials and their Elemental servants. Each primordial is tied to one of the base elements and the Iron Gnomes tend to gravitate towards Fire and Earth. Although token recognition is given to the Primordial forces of Air and Water, it is usually only the rare Iron Gnome who chooses to follow either of those paths.
The Iron Gnomes follow a strict hierarchy based on merit. They believe every Gnome is born equal and in order to rise to a position of power they must prove themselves worthy. Every year, on the anniversary of a Clan Members birth, they are called to stand before the entire assembled clan and declare their actions. If the clan agrees that the individuals actions have improved the value of the clan, their station is elevated. If not, they remain the same. In some extreme cases some Gnomes are found to have been detrimental to the clan and they are cast out.
Many years ago the Iron Gnomes were spread out beneath the Ironbeak Mountains with fortresses and outposts found throughout the Elder Depths. Over time birth rates began to decline amongst the Gnomes, and their numerous enemies began to push up against their settlements more and more. The Iron Gnomes were continually pushed further and further back, with some settlements being abandoned, some being cut off and some being destroyed entirely. Now the entirety of Iron Gnome society clings desperately to their last and greatest fortification, Ironhold. Ironhold is a self-sufficient undercity that has small pools fed from above ground rain and runoff, carefully cultivated gardens and well provisioned stockyards. A large and slow moving river of magma runs through the outer portion providing heat and fire as needed to fuel the forges. Ironhold also serves as one of the few safe entrances to and from the Elder Depths and it is a location fiercely guarded by Gnomes and Dwarves alike.
The Iron Gnomes tend to be extremely xenophobic and are very reluctant to have any contact with the outside world. The Rock gnomes are unparalleled in their ability to fuse traditional arms and armor smithing with magical enhancements and use this as a bargaining trip to import goods and luxuries otherwise unavailable to them. They have also discovered the secrets of gunpowder and have worked remotely with their above ground cousins to begin producing crude firearms. The Iron Gnomes have also devised ways to utilize these components into bombs which they hope will help turn the tides against their deep enemies.
The Xenophobic Iron Gnomes have almost no desire to have interaction with any races other than the Deep Dwarves whom they have become interdependent to. This sense of interdependence has been fostered for centuries and is deeply ingrained in both cultures despite the physical and numerical superiority the dwarves have over the Iron Gnomes.
The Iron Gnomes share the same pool of enemies as their Deep Dwarf Companions although they have a special hatred for the Kobolds of the deep who run rampant throughout the caverns they resides. The Iron Gnomes had originally tried to adopted a patronly relationship with the Kobolds who took their best engineering secrets only to turn them against the gnomes in constant raids and attacks.
The Iron Gnomes are deeply connected with the powers of earth and fire and incorporate this into their military tactics. Encompassing themselves in thick suits of metal, these Magma Knights channel fire and earth and bring destruction upon their enemies.
Iron Gnome Racial Traits
+2 Constitution, +2 Charisma, –2 Strength: Gnomes are physically weak but surprisingly hardy, and their attitude makes them naturally agreeable.
Small: Gnomes are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
Slow Speed: Gnomes have a base speed of 20 feet.
Darkvision: Some gnome strains have lived in the underground depths for so long they have given up on light entirely and gained darkvision with a range of 60 feet.
Warden of Nature: Gnomes must often protect their homes against unnatural or pestilential infestations. Gnomes with this racial trait gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC against aberrations, oozes, and vermin, and a +1 bonus on attack rolls against them because of their special training.
Obsessive: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus on a Craft or Profession skill of their choice.
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.
Pyromaniac: Gnomes with this racial trait are treated as one level higher when casting spells with the fire descriptor, using granted powers of the Fire domain, using the bloodline powers of the fire elemental bloodline or the revelations of the oracle’s flame mystery, and determining the damage of alchemist bombs that deal fire damage (this ability does not give gnomes early access to level-based powers; it only affects the powers they could use without this ability). Gnomes with Charisma scores of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, flare, prestidigitation, produce flame. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s level; the DCs are Charisma-based. This racial trait replaces gnome magic and illusion resistance.