Svirfneblin

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Deep Gnome.jpg

If you're a newcomer to the realms of Dungeons & Dragons, you may be wondering: "wow, there's an elf subspecies for almost every frigging region, and the dwarfs are almost as bad. There's even versions down in the Underdark. But what about gnomes? Do they have kin down there?"

Well, the answer, my young rookie, is a resounding yes. There are Underdark gnomes. They're called the Svirfneblin. And they've been down there a long, LONG time...

The Svirfneblin are a species of gnomes related to the common "Rock" Gnomes, but with an incredibly pronounced fixation on gemstones. Maybe they've got dwarf in them somewhere. So, as a result, the entire race lives in well-hidden mining compounds and cities in the depths of the Underdark, where they can get at veins of precious gems far better than any surface-based miner could hope to have. Unlike their elfish and dwarven counterparts, despite being the "grey-skinned tunnel dwelling subrace", svirfneblin aren't "Usually Evil" - in fact, they're predominantly neutral in alignment, being quiet and reclusive types who just want to be left to their work and prefer to avoid any non-gnomes they might encounter. Of course, as a short list of their neighbors includes psycho demon-worshipping elves, demented dwarves who want to exterminate/enslave all other life, giant psychic catfish who want to enslave everybody, brain-sucking, body-jacking squid-men, blind cannibalistic cavemen and foul-smelling ultra-carnivorous lizard-people, this is a rather sensible attitude to take. Needless to say, in addition to being expert miners and gemsmiths, svirfneblin are well-known for their innate affinity for illusion magics that better hide them. They're not bad with earth elementalism, either.

However, despite being the only non-evil Underdark demihumans, or perhaps because of it, the svirfneblin have never really caught on. Ironically, they survive to this day perhaps only because of the prominence of the Forgotten Realms and their association with one particular drow, despite the general hatred that the drow have for the Deep Gnomes. That drow is, of course, Drizzt Do'Urden, whose second book talks about how he ultimately survived in the Underdark before making his way to the surface thanks to his befriending the inhabitants of a svirfneblin city - ironically echoing their role when introduced in the AD&D 1e modules D2 - Shrine of the Kuo-Toa and D3 - Vault of the Drow.

Thusly, although never allowed to truly hold the spotlight, svirfneblin have been present in every single edition, and playable whenever they appeared.

PC Stats[edit]

AD&D[edit]

Playable Svirfneblin first appeared in the 1e supplement Unearthed Arcana, before reappearing for 2e in both The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings and Players Option: Skills & Powers.

1e Version:

Standard Gnome traits in all ways bar notified here.
60% chance to camouflage themselves against natural stone in the Underdark, which functions as invisibility and is broken as such.
Must be male; female svirfneblin do not become adventurers.
+2 bonus on saving throws versus poison.
+3 bonus on all other saving throws.
Immune to phantasms and illusions.
Svirfneblins who have not taken the Illusionist class can, upon reaching level 6, cast Conjure Elemental to summon an Earth Elemental once per day. The result of this summons is determined by rolling a D20; a 24HD earth elemental is summoned on a 1, a 16HD one on a 2-6, a 12HD one on a 7-10, an 8HD elemental is summoned on a result of 11-15, a xorn appears instead on a 16-18, and on a 19-20, the summoning fails.
Can cast Blindness, Blur and Change Self 1/day each as if an Illusionist of equivalent highest class level.
Permanent Non-Detection effect (self only).
Infravision 12', ultravision 3'.
Light Blindness: All vision ranges reduced to 3' when in bright light and they suffer a -1 penalty on "to hit" rolls.
Only surprised on a roll of 1 on a d12.
Can surprise others on a 1-9 roll on a D10 if attempting to do so alone or with other svirfneblin whilst not wearing bulky armor.
Cannot have psionic abilities.
+1 bonus on "to hit" rolls and damage rolls against drow and kuo-toa.

2e Version:

Ability Score Minimums: Str 6, Dex 6, Con 6, Int 3, Wis 4, Cha 3
Ability Score Maximums: Str 18, Dex 19, Con 18, Int 17, Wis 18, Cha 16
Ability Score Adjustments: +1 Wis, +1 Dex, -1 Int, -2 Cha
Infravision 120 feet
Detect Underground Features: When underground, can detect slopes (1-5), depth (1-4) and direction (1-3) by rolling a D6, and unsafe stonework by scoring a 1-7 on a roll of a D10.
Magic Resistance: 20%, +5% per level beyond the 3rd.
Saving Throw Bonus: +2 to saving throws vs. Poison, +3 to all other saving throws.
Inherent Illusionist Powers: Permanent Non-Detection, can cast Blindness, Blur and Change Self 1/day each.
Freeze In Place: 60% to go undetected by an observer, even if that observer has infravision.
Surprise Bonuses: Can only be surprised on a roll of a 1 on a d10, 90% chance to surprise appopnents.
Defense Bonus: Svirfneblin Warriors have a natural AC of 2, and their AC increases by one point for ever level beyond 3rd, maxing out at AC -6.

3e[edit]

The 3e svirfneblin appeared in no fewer than three Forgotten Realms sourcebooks; the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Races of Faerun and Underdark. It also got a downgraded "lesser" version, which lacked the level adjustment penalties of the true svirfneblin, in a web-expansion for Player's Guide to Faerun.

3e Svirfneblin:

-2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -4 Charisma
Small
Base Speed 20 feet
Darkvision 120 feet
Racial Bonuses: A svirfneblin has a +2 racial bonus on all saving throws, a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against illusions, a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids, a +2 racial bonus on Craft (Alchemy) and Listen checks, and a +2 racial bonus on Hide checks that doubles to +4 in underground environments.
+4 Dodge bonus against all creatures.
Spell Resistance: 11 + Class Level
Stonecunning: +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, can automatically make a Search check for this purpose when they come within 10 feet of unusual stone, and can intuit depth underground.
Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day - Blindness/Deafness, Blur, Disguise Self. Caster level equals class level. Save DC is Charisma-based with a +4 racial modifier.
Nondetection (Su): A svirfneblin is under a permanent Nondetection effect (caster level equals class level).
Increase the saving throw DC of all Illusion spells cast by +1.
Weapon Familiarity: Gnome Hooked Hammers.
Favored Class: Rogue
Level Adjustment: +3

Lesser Svirfneblin: In addition to the standard gnome abilities, except where noted, a Leser Svirfneblin has the following traits:

-2 Strength, +2 Dexterity (replaces default gnome ability adjustments)
Darkvision 60 feet
Stonecunning: +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, can automatically make a Search check for this purpose when they come within 10 feet of unusual stone, and can intuit depth underground.
+2 racial bonus on saving throws vs. spells and spell-like effects (relaces gnome bonus to saves vs. illusions).
+1 dodge bonus to AC against all creatures (replaces the gnome's +4 dodge AC vs. giants).
Weapon Familiarity: Gnome Hooked Hammers
Increase the saving throw DC of all Illusion spells cast by +1.
Spell-like Abilities: 1/day - Resistance, Daze, Lullaby, caster level equals 1/2 character level, DC 10 + spell level + Cha modifier.
+2 racial bonus on Hide checks, which doubles to +4 when underground.
Favored Class: Rogue

Pathfinder[edit]

Ironically, despite their long association with D&D, svirfneblin are - or at least were - legal enough for Pathfinder to use them in the Advanced Race Guide and its follow-up Inner Sea Races. However, perhaps due to the tenuous nature of that claim, those were the only books they received any attention in, and Pathfinder mostly prefers to focus on the Pech instead.

+2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -2 Strength, -4 Charisma
Gnome
Small
Slow Speed: 20 feet
Defensive Training: +2 dodge bonus to AC
Senses: Darkvision 120 feet and Lowlight Vision
Fortunate: +2 racial bonus on all saving throws
Skilled: +2 racial bonus on Stealth checks (+4 when underground), Craft (Alchemy) checks and Perception checks.
Hatred: +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against humanoids with the Reptilian and Dwarven subtypes.
Stonecunning: As per Dwarf.
Spell Resistance: 11 + Character Level.
Svirfneblin Magic: +1 to the DCs of all Illusion spells cast, constant Nondetection effect on self, cast Blindness/Deafness, Blur and Disguise Self 1/day, caster level equals character level.

4e[edit]

Although easily missed due to only appearing in the obscure supplement Into The Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, the svirfneblin do appear in this edition and even retain most of the key elements of their original lore.

Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom, +2 Strength or +2 Constitution
Small
Speed: 5 squares
Vision: Darkvision
Skill Bonuses: +2 Dungeoneering, +2 Perception
Earth Walk: You ignore difficult terrain based on earthen material, such as rubble or uneven stone.
Fey Origin: You are considered a Fey creature for all effects relating to a creature's origin.
Under-Dweller: Dungeoneering is always a class skill for you.
Racial Power: Stone Camouflage
  • Stone Camouflage

Your body becomes stony and magically blends with the terrain around you, making you harder to pinpoint.

Encounter
Illusion
Minor Action
Personal
Effect: You gain Partial Concealment until the end of your next turn and gain +5 temporary hit points, increasing to +10 at 11th level and +15 at 21st level.

Given that this was a late 4e production, it goes without saying that they came with multiple racial feats and racial utility powers to further strengthen the flavor and impact of the race upon your PC, a design decision that had been planned from the beginning, but which 4e initially chose to back off on for whatever reason.

For feats, you have:

  • Crew Savvy: Requires training in Athletics, grants you a +3 to Athletics checks made to climb. Additionally, when making Dungeoneering or Athletics checks to climb, an ally adjacent to you gains a +2 feat bonus if they attempt to make the same sort of check before the end of your next turn.
  • Deep Durability: Only available to Svirfneblin Wardens, this grants you a further +3/5/7 temporary hitpoints (depending on tier) when you use your Stone Camouflage power per enemy marked by you before using it.
  • Deepstone Blessing: Only available to Svirfneblin Clerics, this causes your Healing Word to also grant bonus temporary HP equal to your Constitution modifier.
  • Fade to Gray: When you are hit by an attack whilst partially concealed thanks to Stone Camouflage, you become invisible until the end of your next turn or until you attack. Essentially, you get the benefits of both your own racial power and that of the Feywild Gnome, and this feat's fluff states that it reflects a svirfneblin whose ancestry remains strongly tied to their cousins.

For racial utilities, you have:

  • Ring of Rubble: Level 2 Daily, as a Minor action you can cause the outermost squares of a close burst 2 to become difficult terrain to all creatures without Earth Walk for the rest of the encounter.
  • Words from the Deep: Level 2 Encounter, as a Free action you can use a Dungeoneering check instead of a Diplomacy or Streetwise check.
  • Deep Senses: Level 6 Daily, as a Minor action you can grant yourself Tremorsense 5 until the end of the encounter. Once per round, as a minor action, increase the range of your tremorsense by 1, to a maximum of Tremorsense 10.
  • Stony Disappearance: Level 6 Encounter, as a minor action you can become Invisible until the end of your next turn or until you attack.
  • Stony Durability: Level 6 Daily, as a minor action you can grant yourself Resist 5 to all damage until the end of the encounter.
  • Crystal Shield: Level 10 daily, as a minor action you can conjure a crystalline shield around yourself. It has hit points equal to your healing surge value and lasts until encounter's end or it drops to 0 HP. Whilst it remains, you gain a +2 bonus to AC and Reflex, and when hit by an attack that targets either defense, you can use a free action to make the shield absorb as much of the damage as you wish, depleting its HP accordingly. You still take all other effects of the attack, including damage that either was not absorbed or which exceeded the shield's hit points.
  • Summon Earth-Friend: Level 10 Daily, as a minor action, you can summon a Tiny earth elemental that can't fight, but which can scout for you.
  • Walk Through Stone: Level 10 Encounter, when standing on a stone surface or adjacent to terrain made of stone, as a Move action, you can teleport up to 10 squares to any other spot that will bring you to a stop either on a stone surface or adjacent to stone terrain.

5e[edit]

With their long history, it goes without saying that svirfneblin as a gnomish subrace were a shoe-in for the Elemental Evil Player's Guide, and subsequently were reprinted in the Forgotten Realms' Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. They are unique amongst the playable races of 5e so far in that they compensate for their traditional abundance of magical powers by delegating most of their spell-like abilities to a racial feat. This is a trait 5e has yet to reuse for other, similarly "extra strong" races.

Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Intelligence (from Gnome), +1 Dexterity (from Svirfneblin)
Size: Small (from Gnome)
Speed: 25 feet (from Gnome)
Vision: Superior Darkvision - 120 feet (from Svirfneblin)
Gnome Cunning: Advantage on all Int, Wis and Cha saving throws against magic (from gnome).
Stone Camouflagee: Advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks in rocky terrain (from Svirfneblin).
  • Feat: Svirfneblin Magic

Requires: Gnome race and Svirfneblin subrace Effect: You can cast Nondetection on yourself at-will. You can also cast each of the following spells once with this trait and must then complete a long rest before you can cast them again: Blindness/Deafness, Blur, and Disguise Self. All spells cast with this feat key off of your Intelligence.

Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races
Core: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Dark Sun: Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen
Dragonlance: Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur
Mystara: Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak)
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
Oriental Adventures: Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk
Planescape: Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling
Spelljammer: Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil
Ravenloft: Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope
Complete
Book of X:
Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
Dragon Magazine: Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Races
Player's Handbook: Dragonborn - Drow - Dwarf - Elf - Gnome
Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Dungeon Master's Guide: Aasimar - Eladrin
Elemental Evil Player's Guide: Aarakocra - Genasi - Goliath - Svirfneblin
Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide: Duergar - Ghostwise Halfling - Svirfneblin - Tiefling Variants
Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes: Baatific Tieflings - Duergar - Eladrin - Githyanki
Githzerai - Sea Elf - Shadar-kai - Svirfneblin
Volo's Guide to Monsters: Aasimar - Bugbear - Firbolg - Goblin - Goliath - Hobgoblin - Kenku
Kobold - Lizardfolk - Orc - Tabaxi - Triton - Yuan-Ti Pureblood
Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica: Human - Elf - Centaur - Goblin - Loxodon - Minotaur - Simic Hybrid
Vedalken
Unearthed Arcana: Changeling - Minotaur - Revenant - Shadar-kai
Shifter - Tiefling Variants - Warforged
Plane Shift: Amonkhet: Aven - Khenra - Minotaur - Naga
Plane Shift: Innistrad: Human
Plane Shift: Ixalan: Human - Goblin - Merfolk - Orc - Siren - Vampire
Plane Shift: Kaladesh: Aetherborn - Dwarf - Elf - Human - Vedalken
Plane Shift: Zendikar: Elf - Goblin - Human - Kor - Merfolk - Vampire
One Grung Above: Grung
The Races of Pathfinder
Player's Handbook: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Advanced
Race Guide:
Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
Bestiaries: Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
Adventure Paths: Being of Ib - Kuru
Inner Sea Races: Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
Ultimate Wilderness: Vine Leshy
Blood of the Sea: Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton
Planar Adventures: Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi

Monstergirls?[edit]

LamiaMonstergirl.pngThis article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.

Given the fact that gnomes struggle to find a niche for themselves in the monstergirls market, and that svirneblin are obscure even amongst D&D fans, and you'll probably be disappointed if you go out looking explicitly for MG versions of the race.

Which is a shame, because they're actually quite compatible with it. Beyond the natural appropriateness for the shortstack style, given they are a gnomish subrace, there's also the fact that, culturally, svirfneblin females are encouraged to take great pride in their domestic skills. Female deep gnomes are the masters of the domicile, hard workers who take pride in their ability to manage the household, keep their spouses healthy and happy, and look after the children. And speaking of kids, did we mention that because of where they live, svirfneblin understandably place a lot of importance on reproducing? Not only do they cherish their children, but svirfneblin society actually encourages large families, offering rewards and benefits social, financial and otherwise to those who prove dedicated to pushing the svirfneblin race back from the brink of extinction. If you like gnomes, but also like the pregnancy fetishism typically associated with monstergirl goblins, then svirfneblin can give you the best of both worlds.