I thought it was a little more cut and dry, but there seems to be a lot of confusion on this subject. Some say that gnomes don't truly age and instead the bleaching is what ages them, and if they survive it they essentially stop aging and become immortal as they were on the first world. Others say they still age, but they appear ageless like a druids timeless body ability. I personally want to make a character that can potentially live forever, and while there are ways to do this, it would be really cool to be able to make any class and just be a bleachling. I was going to do just this until I saw conflicting information on the internet.
Does anyone know, officially, what the answer is? Or is this one of those things that people argue about forever without a true answer?
THE BLEACHINGType curse; Save Will halts or reverses (see text)
Onset middle age; Frequency 1/year
Effect Upon reaching middle age, any gnome who in the GM’s opinion does not adequately seek out new and interesting experiences runs the risk of experiencing the Bleaching. Each year that the gnome doesn’t act to mitigate his boredom, he must make a Will save with a DC equal to the amount of ability damage he’s taken from the Bleaching so far or 10 + his level, whichever is greater. If he fails, he takes a 1d6 drain to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma respectively. This drain cannot be healed in any manner short of a wish or miracle. If at any point the gnome undergoes sufficiently interesting experiences, he does not need to save that year to avoid further drain and may instead attempt a save that year at the curse's current DC to remove 1d4 points of ability drain from each affected ability score. If one of the gnome’s ability scores reaches 0 because of the curse (not as a result of some other ability damage or drain), he must immediately make a final save at the curse's current DC. If he fails, he dies and cannot be resurrected; if he succeeds, he becomes a bleachling. A bleachling is immune to the Bleaching and is immune to further effects of aging as per the druid’s timeless body ability, though he retains any agerelated penalties already incurred; additionally, any ability drain due to the Bleaching is reversed. The colors of his body are muted, he treats druid as an additional favored class (including retroactively gaining favored class skill ranks which he may apply to Intelligence-, Wisdom-, or Charisma-based skills), and he can cast speak with animals at will. The Bleaching cannot be cured by magic; it persists even in areas where magic does not function.
Timeless Body (Ex): After attaining 15th level, a druid no longer takes ability score penalties for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any penalties she may have already incurred, however, remain in place. Bonuses still accrue, and the druid still dies of old age when her time is up.
Being a bleachling creates an effect like druid's timeless body, and that protects from penalties, but doesn't stop the death from old age.
Some alternative 'immortal' races:
Ghoran are a plant species that can create a clone of themselves. When the clone matures the consciousness transfers to the new body. So effectively immortal unless killed.
Shabti are strange artificial humanoids created to suffer the torments the creator would of suffered after death. As a player, your Shabti passed whatever trials and torments you were assigned and have gained your freedom. While your creation was artificial, you live. And the entire 'race' is immortal.
Actually, they just addressed this explicitly on a recent Secrets of Golarion video that Paizo put out, recording a panel from PaizoCon. There, they did state that Bleachlings do, indeed, die of old age.
Personally, I think it's a bit of a shame. Gnomes are so wacky and not-normal, I think it would have been great if they were indeed immortal so long as they could stave off the Bleaching, and simply didn't age like any other race, with the few survivors of death by old age being literally immortal. But ah well, having Gnomes age the exact same as every other race works as well, I guess.