The Stockwood Scrolls
The human scholars of Candlekeep refer to the gnomes as the Forgotten Folk, for their willful evasion of the great wars and tragedies that color the history of Faerûn’s other races. While the gnomes have been slaves of powerful nations such as Netheril and Calimshan in the past, they have never been conquerors. For the most part, they have lived in out-of-the-way forests and hills, untroubled by the conflicts that occupy human, elven, and dwarven attention.
That has changed as the number of humans in Faerûn has grown. Many gnome youngsters now question the wisdom of attempting to remain completely separate from other societies. Change within gnome communities is slower than In human ones, but more and more young gnomes are leaving home to live as travelers or adventurers.
The Forgotten Folk are nevertheless somewhat rare in Faerûn. Small communities of surface-dwelling gnomes, also known as rock gnomes, exist in the Western Heartlands, Elturgard, and along the coast of the Shining Sea. Their rarely seen cousins that live in the deep sylvan forests of Faerûn are little more than myths to most common folk, and are known as forest gnomes. Many gnomes dwell in the Underdark, and these are known as svirfneblin or deep gnomes. These svirfneblin are careful to keep themselves and the location of their cities concealed. They often settle near dwarves and maintain polite relations with their neighbors. As a result of natural selection over many millenia, the gnomes of the surface appear and act quite different to their Underdark cousins.
Gnomes have a strong sense of curiosity, and they are particularly interested in all things magical. This interest has led many to become affiliated with various arcane institutions. They generally lack the ambitions and motivations of big folk, and are content to lead simple lives. Their curiosity manifests in a variety of ways, depending on an individual gnome’s interest. Some gnomes are content to wander between libraries and temples, gleaning knowledge from books and tomes. Others crave to explore lost ruins, delve deep into the world, and snoop around arcane laboratories. Despite the gnomish capacity for avoiding attention, many a gnome has met with an untimely demise at the hands of a sadistic dracolich, a malevolent mindflayer, or an enraged archmage.
When Gond, the god of invention, appeared to the world in the form of a gnome, many young gnomes took that as a sign that it was time for gnomes to invent a new way of life. These followers of Gond, or as they call him, Nebelun, share the standard gnome distaste for joining organizations that are too big, so they tend to organize themselves into small groups of like-minded inventors rather than trying to remake gnome communities in their own image.
Religion and Alignment
Gnomes most commonly worship members of the Gnome Pantheon, with the notable exception of Gond/Nebelun. Rock and forest gnomes are most often good, as their good creators intended.
Gnomes mature at the same rate humans do, and are expected to settle down into adult life by age 40. They are considered middle-aged around 100, old by 150, and venerable by 200. The average life span is around 350 years, though they may live to be 500.