Garden Gnomes: Creating a Race for D&D Pathfinder

My first time playing Pathfinder I created a typical human fighter, you know the kind: the battle-worn, slow but tough warrior with a greatsword. He was as cliche and uninteresting as a monk without a name. But as I grew more comfortable with the game’s mechanics and my fighter died because I picked out terrible equipment for him (not even a Cloak of Resistance for the poor fool!), I learned that the most exciting moments of Dungeons&Dragons occur outside combat. It’s the silly banter with the NPCs, the pranks between party members, and the (hilariously) terrible skill rolls that make everyone at the table laugh.

It’s the sharing of drinks at a table of people collectively telling a story that draws me to the game.

One of my favorite moments of D&D: my boyfriend wanted to disguise himself–an old witch–as a man and convince a young boy he was his father. He wanted to gain the boy’s trust in order to gain valuable information. He, of course, immediately rolls a 1. In-game you can imagine this old witch running up to this little boy shrieking, “HEY BOY I’M YOUR DADDY!” The authorities were promptly called.

In a more recent session, I was playing a grumpy old man. He isn’t much for acts of selflessness but was convinced by the party to help find food for a town of starving people. Well, after going through all the trouble of disposing of pirates and bringing back enough food to feed the town, I find that the mayor is ungrateful of all my hard work! Not being the diplomatic type, my character went on a long and violent tirade… and was promptly arrested.

After playing D&D for quite some time I’ve found myself drawn to gnomes. To me the race has the most room for antics. Their unique appearance and natural Charisma bonus make for unique characters who can hold their own in conversation. But over time I’ve found their stats somewhat restrictive; sure I want to play a charismatic and quirky character, but I’d also like to be somewhat useful in combat (mind you I play wizards 90% of the time so it does hurt not having the Intelligence bonus). I’ve never been keen on elves and I’ve played a bit with the other races.

So I decided to start making my own races.

Garden Gnomes: The Start of a Blog Series

Garden gnomes are Pathfinder-compatible race

Garden gnomes are social tricksters who live in tight-knit communities in forests or plains.

I’ve started a website to host my adorable creations. These races are built not only for players who thrive outside of combat but also want more options for their favorite classes. The races are fully balanced for play with the base races and they can be easily integrated into (almost) any campaign.

My first creation is (big surprise) an offset of typical gnomes. Named garden gnomes, these little creatures have plants stuck to their heads. They live in tight-knit communities where they plant themselves and–with their heads peeking out just above ground–converse and share rumors and secrets. Their love of nature make them natural druids, while their altruism and unwavering optimism make them great bards and clerics.

You can learn more on Sage Owl Press.

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