Gnomes have never been a big part of the Warhammer mythos, but they were in WFRP 1st edition, and in the first couple of editions of Warhammer itself. To celebrate the month of Gnomevember, here is a roundup of their brief history in Warhammer and WFRP.
Back in 1986, Citadel did have a few Gnome miniatures in its catalogue, so I included stats for them in the WFRP1 Bestiary. I’ve written before about how I tried to include stats for every miniature Citadel had ever made.
Gnomes weren’t included in the rulebook as a player race, even though they had been a PC race in D&D for some time. We were quite happy with Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. Even Halflings didn’t convince everyone, but at the time we felt they needed to be in the book: somehow, in the 80s, you just couldn’t have a fantasy RPG without Halflings. Since then the Halflings, too, have vanished from both Warhammer and WFRP. But back to Gnomes.
Phil Gallagher wrote “Out of the Garden” in White Dwarf 86 (reprinted in Hogshead’s Apocrypha Now), which gave Gnomes a culture and a place in the Warhammer world, as well as PC rules for WFRP, a patron deity, and a unique career of their own, the Gnome Jester.
The article also included a plethora of Gnome puns, possibly inspired by David Bowie’s novelty record The Laughing Gnome.
A gnome character starred in Carl Sargent’s Poirot-inspired adventure “With a Little Help from My Friends,” which was published in White Dwarf 105 and reprinted in the Warhammer Companion.
And that was it. Like Halflings, Gnomes just weren’t fearsome enough to make a good Warhammer force, and Citadel stopped making Gnome miniatures. Actually, I think they had already stopped by the time WFRP was published, but perhaps someone from the Oldhammer community can correct me if I’m wrong.
It didn’t help that these two articles were jokey even by WFRP1 standards: somehow we just couldn’t take Gnomes seriously enough to incorporate any grimdark horror along with the jokes. We probably thought it couldn’t be done, although some 20 years later my erstwhile colleague Keith Baker did a very good job with the Gnomes in his pulp-inspired Eberron setting for D&D.
Anyway, it was only a matter of time before Gnomes disappeared from WFRP as they had from Warhammer. By 2nd edition they were gone, and a Gnome thief in my adventure “A Rough Night at the Three Feathers” was changed to a Halfling for the 2nd edition reprint in Plundered Vaults.
But as with so many things, WFRP fans weren’t ready to let go of Gnomes. The Strike to Stun forums include various discussions of Gnomes, some with links to fan-created Gnome rules for WFRP2. And now, the final issue of the excellent Warpstone fanzine includes no less than three articles on Gnomes.
And appropriately enough it appeared this month: Gnomevember!