Monday, 31 August 2015

WFRP'd: Out of the Garden or Roleplaying Gnomes

Writing about Little Ron, my unfortunate Gnome crossbowman, recently reminded me of the part the more unusual races once played in Warhammer. Gnomes, pygmies, fimir, zoats... Sure, they had no armies as such, but they added a flavour to the game that later editions lacked, and a wild unpredictablilty of what you actually might have to face if you play a properly GMed game of Third Edition. 

Delving into the past background of the game reminded me of my WFRP'd project. It has a similar mission statement to Acceptable in the '80s, as it is essentially a history of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, with added thoughts about how the huge source of material produced for the game might be applied to Oldhammer. 

So dusting off the WFRP rulebook I delved deep into the next article, one that concerns the previously mentioned Gnomes. Its called 'Out of the Garden' (a quip perhaps to the greenfingered?) and was written by Phil Gallagher and originally published in WD 86.

You may be aware that Citadel produced a number of figures at that time and Graeme Davis has gone on the record to state that he attempted to include all the races that had figures available in the WRFP rulebook. Background material was slight, as I found when I painted a gnome for my Warhammer Bestiary painting challenge- which I must get back to one day! So this article gives us much more information about the Gnomes. 

Reading the first page gives us the usual excuse of variation within the Warhammer World for the player to create their own background,using what is provided as a template. What is interesting to a scenario writer (like me) are the references to gnome pedlars and engineers, with the latter being the perfect way of slipping a gnome into a game. Give him cannon to command or a bridge to destroy!

The second page continues with the in-jokes that made Warhammer so different to Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980s, with mention of the gnomes' love of fishing, and of course the dreadful 'metro-gnome' joke. Humour aside, it does provide us with some useful information about where gnomes live, so if you do have a handful of minis kicking about in your collection its fairly easy to create a setting in which to use them. 

The article goes on to describe the then new Gnome Jester career option. And provides yet more scope to include them in your Oldhammer games, perhaps part of some 'gnobleman's' (get it?) retinue, or as a character within a village or remote inn. 

The third page chronicles the the gnome deity, Ringil, the god of smithying and practical jokes. My eye was immediately drawn to the note about the trials that members of the religion must undergo if they offend the teaching of Ringil, namely the application of some bizarre practical joke! What a fascinating secret mission for a player in a larger game who has a gnome character, eh? 

Now that's an idea I will most definitely develop in the near future!

If you want to know more about Gnomes in Warhammer then perhaps you should pop over to Where the Sea Pours Out and have a read of Richard Irvine's academic piece about them. Graeme Davis also wrote a short piece on their history here.

It was nice 'gnoming' you!



  1. I never incorporated Gnomes into my WFRP campaigns. That and half-breeds. Seemed too silly to me, I'd like to keep the humour suitably dark.

  2. Wow. I played WFRP 1st edition for years and didn't even notice there was some possibility of playing a gnome jester. Great article and thanks again for sharing all these documents !

  3. I collected everything I could find about Warhammer gnomes here: