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Gnomes as (Mentzerian) Player-Characters

by Shannon

Well, I did it: I went aggregated all the rules I could find about gnomes in both Top Ballista and the Rules Cyclopedia into a spreadsheet for ease of comparison and reference.

There are many interesting things which emerge and important things to note about my choices:

Philosophy & Methods

Observed Trends

Presumably gnomes in either system can become wiccas or shamans (but not both!), and since the rules for this are easily added modularly, I don't bother much about them here. Note, though, that wiccas or shamans gain an additional prime requisite (intelligence or wisdom), which could perhaps lead to gnomes with three(!) prime requisites if we adopt both strength and dexterity as their prime requisites following the example of halflings in the Cyclopedia! In that case, I'd recommend a 5% bonus or penalty to experience points for any one and a 10% bonus or penalty to experience points for any two or more prime requisites outside the average, rather than any extrapolation to 15% modifiers for three extraordinary attributes, which begins to seem zany to me. The maths for multiple prime requisites are enough hassle as they stand....

Irondrake: I reckon by the book (i.e., according to the Cyclopedia) gnomes, like all demihumans, have basic ability with all weapons not precluded to them by their race and class (e.g., gnomes cannot of course wield lances or two-handed swords), but they gain one additional slot for mastery at levels four and eight, as well as another slot for every 200,000 experience points earned beyond maximum level. That last bit depends upon whether one permits gnomes to advance only to eight level (the limit for halflings) or to thirty-sixth. Under the first rubric, they'll be getting more slots for every 200,000 experience points gained after reaching eighth level; under the second rubric, strictly speaking, they get no more slots except for every 200,000 experience points gained after level thirty-six (their maximum level). Of course it can be argued they should get a new slot for every 200,000 experience points gained after reaching eighth level even if they are permitted to advance to thirty-sixth level, but I am inclined to follow the stingier interpretation, since permitting demihumans to advance to thirty-sixth level is already quite a boon for them.

Did you all fall asleep? I hope not. I'm hoping people have thoughts about this stuff; I am interested in which rules seem best, or how they might be combined optimally. What do people reckon about the substantial differences in experience points needed and hit points possible under the two systems? Should hit dice be 1d6 or 1d8? What about the bonuses to armour class, missile attacks, and melee against large foes? Should gnomes get the fighting options and multiple attacks? Can the special powers like casting Wall of Stone or Aerial Servant be given to gnomes under the Cyclopedia's system? What about saving throws? Should gnomes get the halved and quartered damage from spells available to dwarves, and the bonuses against either earth-based or air-based attacks and spells? Only some of these? Has any one made a similar comparative analysis using a limit of eighth level and attack ranks? Have you thoughts about weapon mastery?

Of course, the right answers are whatever one wants in one's own game, but friendly discussion and debate fosters otherwise overlooked aspects of differing approaches. For instance, why'd you decide to adopt the rules for thieves regarding equipment, Axesnorcs? (Top Ballista states that gnomes generally prefer leather armour for less restricted movement, but it permits an individual gnome any armour: chain mail may be worn without penalties, and bulkier armour, like plate mail, may be worn, but it imposes a -2 penalty to the gnome's dexterity.)