Gnomes tend to be reclusive, and evade getting in the way of others. This is learned from an early age, as childhood games focus on stealth and trickery. However, a few gnomes will stray from their small, yet numerous communities to become adventurers. These heroes’ tales are told and passed along generations of gnomes. Rarely do accounts measure their brawn, but their cunning and ingenuity are praised.
Most gnomish settlements tend to be little more than small towns or artist colonies, built out of hovels halfway into the ground. Cities, such as Hazuz in Aradia and Shalan’ti in Eyr, have large gnome communities. Each community is made up of social classes. Whether urban or rural, gnomes lack any sort of centralized government outside of their own merchant lords. Generally, gnomes favor having councils as their governing body. In the event the council is deadlocked in a vote, a single gnome holding the title of mayor will break the tie. That is the sole responsibility of a gnomish mayor.
At the very top of gnomish societies are the merchant lords, who act as a sort of unofficial nobility. They have no official role in running their communities, though they are heavily invested in its welfare. Merchant lords hold most of the wealth and have diplomatic and personal contracts with all manner of other cultures, races, and kingdoms.
The middle class is primarily employed by the merchant lords. Nearly every middle class multifamily dwelling holds some sort of business complete with a public area where goods and services are sold. Urban middle class gnomes will send their children to gnome-only academies; though if their population is few, children will join some other public education system. Rural gnome children are taught by their parents or some other gnome designated as a teacher for students of all ages.
There are also the rebels, gnomes who refuse to be a part of the system. They come from all walks of life and backgrounds: rich or poor, young or old. Rebels are disillusioned by gnomish social structure and desire a new beginning. Some of the greatest gnome philosophers were rebels, and their wisdom will never be forgotten. With an ever watchful eye for what they seek to tear down and rebuild, rebels are a thorn in the side of the merchant lords and the middle class.
Almost every gnome has some sort of creative endeavor. Even those who are less artistically inclined may take up something simple, like whittling. Pursuing an artistic vision, be it through music, drama, writing, visual arts, or crafting, is among one of the highest callings for gnomes. It’s atypical for a gnome not to have some sort of creative outlet. An acceptable alternative for a gnome that has neither the time nor inclination is to sponsor someone else’s artistic talent. All arts are said to lead to the truth of reality, and every gnome seeks to reveal life’s mysteries.
Magic may be viewed as an artform, but it is little more than a common pursuit. The gnome’s natural magical abilities render the study as something lesser in the opinion of others. Familiarity breeds contempt, and for a race that demands entertainment, that adage is quite true. However, magic is considered best when attached to some occupation, such as bardic music. An illusionist who has a practical use for one’s skill, such as costuming or interior design, is better praised than an adventurer or least of all a wizard.