Exiled from the mysterious fey realm of the First World, gnomes are fundamentally alien to Golarion. Endlessly excitable, gnomes amuse and terrify other races with their strange obsessions and unconventional methods. Their childlike wonder—and sometimes innocent cruelty—are two sides of the same coin, and every coin the gnomes have is spent in pursuit of adventure, whether they like it or not. For the gnomes have a dark secret: should they ever stop seeking out new experiences, they fall prey to the Bleaching, a wasting disease that slowly sucks away their hold on the world, leaving them nothing but bones and dust.
Inside this Pathfinder Companion, you’ll find the following:
Details on the gnomes of Golarion—how they live, who they worship, their relations with other races, their strange obsessions, and more.
History and folklore of the gnome race.
Map and descriptions of the major gnome settlements.
New traits designed exclusively for gnome characters.
Rules for the Wonderseekers, a new faction dedicated to fending off the Bleaching.
Statistics for the Bleaching, as well as for those strange creatures known as bleachlings.
Bizarre new gnome weapons, spells, and feats.
By Colin McComb, Steven Schend, Sean K Reynolds, Owen KC Stephens, Mark Moreland, Jeff Quick, and Hal Maclean
Each bimonthly 32-page Pathfinder Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for social, magic, religious, and combat-focused characters, as well as a persona section detailing helpful NPCs and traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.
I ordered this book with very high expectations and very high hopes. And it mostly delivered. Since I started gaming gnomes have been my favorite race by far and I’ve really enjoyed the Pathfinder/Glorian spin to the little buggers. The physical quality of this supplement was nice. It is a nice, solid paperback with a glossy cover, and the artwork and fonts really pop and show personality. The flavor within, and it does contain fluff by the truckload, is all interesting and fun, and well worth the price alone. and the new spell is exciting, balanced, creative, and generally top notch. The sample NPCs are a couple of the best I’ve seen so far and there are a handful of traits which I would gladly allow in my games. Overall I find this book to be an excellent addition to my collection, but there were some minor details which, when added together, led to the loss of a star;
The new exotic weapon section, despite being one of my favorite sections of the book, contained a couple of errors. One of the weapons listed on the chart doesn’t have a description and as a gnomish weapon it can be difficult to discern how it is supposed to appear or function. There is also a weapon which has a fun description listed that isn’t on the weapon chart, so there is no way to guess its price and weight.
Another qualm I have with this companion is that there are several new feats, which while fun, have a couple of problems. One feat, for example, lists a ability that the opponent must save against, although it lists no way to calculate the DC. Through reading the other feats I believe that I’ve inferred the correct way, but having something so large missing is a bit annoying.
But even with the problems listed above I’d strongly suggest buying this supplement if you like to play gnome characters or if you intend to include them as part of a campaign. I’d even suggest purchasing it for some fun, light reading.
I have always hated gnomes as a throwaway race with out much of a racial identity. Now, they are a cohesive, and vibrant variation, with a ton of potential! Check out my full review: Gnomes of Golarion
Even more than the halflings, the gnomes have struggled to find a place in fantasy gaming. Big noses, illusions, inventions that fail disastrously, and talking to moles might make for good cartoon gags, but they don't exactly make for great heroes. Gnomes have never done anything that halflings or dwarves don't do better – at least nothing useful.
Until Pathfinder, that is. Gnomes are no longer annoying because they are pointless. Gnomes are annoying because that is how they stay alive and vibrant. A gnome that does not seek out new, exciting adventures can fall pray to bleaching. The Bleaching literally strips their color away and, eventually, their life. Gnomes have to regularly overturn their lives, and the lives of everyone around them, or they will slowly fade away.
The gnomes come from the fey First World. Were they migrants to Golarion? Escapees? Deportees? They don't remember and the fey aren't talking. Whatever their reason for leaving, the trip was one way. The gnomes are not a natural part of Golarion, but they are now a permanent part of it. Their otherworldly origin is an important part of their character. Gnomes make every attempt to fit in on Golarion, but they don't quite understand how mortal life works or how the races think.
All of the non-human player character races are literary descendant of fairies, or closely equivalent beings, from various European mythologies. Golarion gnomes gain some individuality and differentiate themselves from halflings and dwarves by reinstating this fey connection. Gnomes have always been more magical than the other two short races. This book gives a good explanation for that magic and gives the gnomes verisimilitude they haven't had before.
With the fey connection and the threat of bleaching, gnomes actually make sense as magic using practical jokers. Their high charisma helps them avoid some of the backlash they might otherwise receive for their behavior. More importantly, gnomish practical jokes are explicitly non-malicious. A gnome might play a practical joke on a paladin to bring his ego back down to earth, but he wouldn't do it out of cruelty. Annoying in a fun way – that's what the Gnomes of Golarion offers, as opposed to the annoying in an annoying way gnomes I've run into before at the gaming table.
If the book has any weakness, it's the sample characters. Upon reflection, I can see how they are whimsical and perfectly gnomish. The written descriptions, however, leave them seeming mostly... odd. One character gives away a magical copper coin away and then tracks it down and retrieves it by any means necessary. The other is Don Quixote-style knight who wears a tea kettle as a helmet and runs a constant monologue as he battles. They should seem a lot more silly and non-human than they do. They come off more as bad play actors than actual fey-touched gnomes.
But the sample characters are a small quibble. If you play gnomes, or wonder why anyone would play one, this is the book for you. No matter your game world, it will be a lot more colorful and interesting with these gnomes in it.
I was NOT excited for this book.... well, I was wrong and I'm proud to slap a 5 star rating in it. This is by and large my favorite of the Companion line to date. Interesting and useful new traits, spells, and equipment (you will enjoy gnome weaponry, I promise). There's something in here for everyone, even an ability that allows Gnome Barbarians to feint while raging (I.E. they look so ridiculous they catch the enemy off gaurd). Flavorful, witty, and most importantly fun.