Tinker Gnome

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Tinker Gnomes, or Minoi in their own tongue, are a subrace of the Gnome of Dungeons & Dragons, one native to the world of Krynn - home of the Dragonlance setting. Like their distant cousin, the Svirfneblin, Minoi are distinct enough from their more mainstream cousins to warrant their own article on 1d4chan.

Sadly for the Minoi, it's not exactly for the most glamorous of reasons; as a matter of fact, minoi are generally considered the second worst race to come out of Krynn, superior only to the notorious Kender.

History[edit]

The minoi claim to be the the chosen children of Reorx, Krynn's God of Creation, who were specially chosen by him in the mythical dawn of the world to embody all of his virtues and skills.

Mind you, tinker gnomes also claim to be responsible for forging the Dragonlances, that they did battle against dragons with armadas of flying warships, and that they singlehandedly were responsible for the defeat of Takhisis and her legions during the War of the Lance, with at most minimalistic help towards the end from the Companions of the Lance. Since all of these are provably false facts, most ignore the minoi's claims as to their origins.

Between external disaster and internal incompetence, the gnomish history is pretty much a mystery. Well, technically it's not, as gnomish culture dictates the preservation of every individual gnome's life in a detailed diary - but wading through such material is the most incredibly boring task one can envision, with even intrepid scholars balking at the monumental process of wading through incalcuable tirades of trivial nonsense to find the few gleaming nuggets of significance.

Still, what almost every race agrees upon is that the minoi were once humans who were taken in as students by Reorx during the Age of Dreams, only to anger him when they began using what they had learned for their own agendas. He inflicted a great curse upon these failed students, transforming them into the first tinker gnomes, and cast them out into the world. But, he never entirely turned away from them.

And, in time, he found a use for them; inspiring them to reach to Lunitari and pluck forth the Greygem (or Greystone, depending on the version), a magical crystal he had created which he believed would anchor neutrality itself to Krynn and ensure it could never be fully swayed by good or evil. One heroic minoi succeeded, with a little help from Reorx, but when the Greygem returned to Krynn, it suddenly flew away from the gnomes, shedding raw, primordial Chaos energies in its wake. Most of the race pursued it, following it far to the west, where it had been captured by a wizard-king of Ansalon named Gargath.

Here, the tinker gnomes laid seige to Gargath, taking heavy casualties from repeat failures at entering the castle with their dubiously useful seige engines before one finally fell over and broke through. As the gnomes poured into the castle's interior, the Greygem's chaos washed over them; two thirds of the gnomes began to fight over what they should do with the Greygem, to the bemusement of their remaining kindred. Those fighting gnomes were transformed into the first dwarves and kender, depending on whether they had been consumed by greed or curiosity. The no-longer-gnomes scattered across Ansalon, whilst the remaining minoi pursued the Greygem. Most of them ultimately gave up the chase and settled on the Isle of Sancrist, where they colonized the extinct volcano that has come to be known as "Mount Nevermind".

Since that day, the minoi have had little impact on the world of Krynn. Only three things have happened on Sancrist that other races have bothered to take note of:

The first was the establishing of an alliance between minoi and the humans of Solamnia. Initially, the gnomes panicked at the approach of strange, war-like humans, and came up with a typically minoi-ish plan: to make their mountain home disappear! Instead, they just flooded its depths with noxious, mildly poisonous and incredibly foul-smelling fumes, forcing them to flee their home and stagger onto the beach, where the bemused humans were waiting for them, having fled the fumes before them. Fortunately for the minoi, the Solamnians were a kindly and peaceful people, and they were quick to help the gnomes recover. Thus, the bond between the peoples was born, and the Day of Rotten Eggs has never been forgotten in Solamnia.

Secondly, the Cataclysm itself - which actually benefited the minoi, as it forced the land up and increased both the isle of Sancrist itself and the stature of the mountains in its northern half.

Finally, during the War of Souls, Sancrist was technically conquered by a Red Dragon on behalf of Takhisis. Unfortunately for the dragon, he found the gnomes so fearlessly stupid in their obsession with learning about him, and so annoying, that he ultimately secluded himself away from them and left them to just continue as they pleased.

Note that some assert a slightly different origin, claiming that gnomes evolved or were transformed from dwarves instead of the other way around, most likely a result of the Greygem. This argument is rather stymied by the minoi's lack of visual acuity in deep darkness compared to the dwarves.

And, of course, the dwarves themselves assert that they are Reorx's favored children, and gnomes were just one of the more flawed prototype races he made before he finally created perfection, as embodied by themselves.

Their distant origin as cursed humans explains why the tinker gnomes of Krynn are able to interbreed with humans, creating the poor souls known as Krynnish Half-Gnomes.

Reorx's Curse[edit]

The Curse of Reorx is a truly cruel thing, as it fills the minoi with the obsession to perform science, but the complete inability to do so in a sensible way.

The precise mechanics of how this works are subtle and manifold, with slight tweakings of detail between different sourcebooks across different editions.

The first glimmerings are seen in Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home, the first sourcebook to really talk about Krynn's tinker gnomes. Here, the primary facets of the curse are described as a prioritizing of show over substance, confusing action with accomplishment, and considering the means as outweighing the end result - or, in a nutshell, minoi are seemingly incapable of viewing the merits of clean design, easy system and cost-effective program.

As such, when a gnome sets out to invent something, it's a good bet that, at least initially, the device will be thirty times larger than necessary, make ten times as much noise, will be crammed full of redundancies, and will fail miserably, if not disasterously. Further tinkering may improve some flaws, but will usually just compound the problem by cluttering it up with fail-safe devices, warning signals and redundant safety features, making it even bigger and often less reliable than it was before.

Compounding the problem, minoi and "organized research" are practically contradictory terms. Every tinker gnome is off working on his or her own little project, indifferent to the advances of science and technology from other sources, and often redesigning the whole project from scratch at any given point. Small wonder that minoi technology is locked into an endless cycle of "reinventing the wheel", as the saying goes.

As Sester's Law states, "If there's any possible way to ruin a perfectly good idea, a gnome will find ten of them". Lord Sester was the head of the human colony on Sancrist, and knew well of what he spoke.

The tinker gnomes' description in Dragonlance Adventures, the 1e PHB/DMG for Dragonlance campaigns, was much more abstract: it describes the great curse of the tinker gnomes as a combination of improving technological devices to death, scoffing at simple mechanisms and an obsession with redundancy.

Tales of the Lance, the 2e adaptation/upgrade for Dragonlance Adventures, basically reiterates these points. Tinker gnomes prefer style over substance, strive for constant "improvement", and are obsessed with redundancy - to the point they have actual proverbs like "simplicity is for simpletons" or the more polite "small, simple machines are made by small, simple minds" . One unique aspect of the curse mentioned in this sourcebook is that gnomes are scholastic packrats, obsessed with gathering information but incapable of discriminating between the useful and the useless.

The next new aspect of the curse was revealed in the 3rd edition update, Dragonlance Campaign Setting, where it states the following tinker gnome proverb: "Embrace failure. One never knows when a mistake with one project may provide an intriguing lead for a completely new project. An invention that is too simple and works too well stymies inventiveness and must be discouraged."

Races of Ansalon describes tinker gnomes thus: "they do not stop to think; they go then think". It also mentions abstractly that tinker gnomes, at least culturally, do not believe in the principle of Cause And Effect.

The end result is that, ironically, Krynn's greatest proponents of technology have probably done more to stymie its growth than anything else. Anything that minoi machinery can do, magic can do better - so long as you define "better" as "cheaper, quicker, safer, more reliably and more efficiently". To say nothing of the fact that magic can just plain do outright many things that minoi "science" simply cannot.

This truth would probably incense the minoi if they could bring themselves to acknowledge it.

Indeed, on more than one occasion, minoi "devices" have only functioned because they unwittingly incorporated magical artifacts into their construction. It's well known that most minoi spelljammers only function because they contain a spelljammer helm hidden away amongst the bells and whistles, but reading between the lines of the story of the minoi who retrieved the Greygem in Dragonlance Adventures suggests that was another such case. After all, the "Moon-Seeking Ladder" was a segmented ladder where the user could winch up the top, climb to the top, then winch up the bottom segment as the ladder hung steadily in midair, climbing up segment by segment until they reached their destination, and it only functioned because Reorx gave its creator a "secret device". In all likelihood, the ladder's core component was an Immovable Rod.

Culture[edit]

Minoi culture is dominated by their unquenchable obsession with technology and "progress". Infant tinker gnomes start experimenting with simple tools and devices from their earliest days, grow up to attend a well-developed scholastic system focused on broad education, and then join any of the countless guilds that focus on studying various aspects of the sciences.

Mind you, just because every tinker gnome is obsessed with "science" doesn't mean they all agree on why or what for. Some believe that they are supposed to solve the mysteries of the world. Others argue that their purpose is to deconstruct and rebuild the world. Others take a more cosmological approach and look to influence the world on a grand scale. And these are just the tip of the iceberg; there are thousands of different philosophies as to what the grand purpose of the minoi and their science is supposed to be.

The most integral part of minoi culture is the concept of the Life Quest, a personal goal of mastering a single scientific concept or principle, in the aims of studying it so thoroughly that all that could possibly be known about the subject is now known. Life Quests are typically handed down through families, and rarely if ever are completed; still, completing a Life Quest is believed to be essential if a tinker gnome and their ancestors is to enter paradise.

On the greater level, minoi culture is an awkward thing indeed. The vast and sprawling array of guilds, committees, sub-committees and so forth leads to an enormous bureaucracy - one often paralyzed by its own weight. Whilst the laidback and unambitious tinker gnomes are normally content to just grind along under this slow-moving and often incompetent legalistic juggernaut for guidance in their day to day lives, when things require more immediate action, they just do whatever the hell they feel like, adding an extra dose of anarchy.

Minoi dress is based upon their natural disinterest in wasting time, the demands of their fevered contemplations, and the practicalities of working with machinery. As such, they have absolutely none of what other races consider fashion sense, gravitating towards many-pocketed workman's gear and just throwing on whatever's closest to hand when they need to dress themselves.

Likewise, their social skills are atrocious. Though some of the finer details have changed a little across the editions, minoi are bluntly spoken, brusque, and often come across as somewhat condescending to other races - especially those incapable of keeping up with their distinctive "hyper-common", a breathless diatribe of information that stems from their unique ability to talk and listen at the same time.

According to the Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings, unlike rock and deep gnomes, Krynnish tinker gnomes are said to have little interest in gems and to instead revere coal for its uses in steam engines. This information has never been referred to since.

Religion-wise, whilst minoi feel a deep love for their creator, Reorx, they are not a conventionally religious people, and so few priests are found amongst them; most of their reverence is expressed through their daily focus on creating inventions rather than through prayer. Shinare, Goddess of Industry, is another deity with some presence amongst the minoi, invoked when they activate their machines. Races of Krynn also claims the presence of similar minor faith in Sirrion, God of Flame, and Gilean, God of Knowledge.

For obvious reasons, minoi don't like arcanists much. They view magic as "cheating" and, perhaps deep down, resent that magic is more effective than their technological efforts. Whilst some tinker gnomes do turn to magic, they always justify it as either attempting to use magic as a power-source for their beloved machinery, or as a way to understand and reverse-engineer it so they can create technological duplication of magical effects.

PC Tinker Gnomes[edit]

Minoi PCs have been availible in literally every single edition of Dungeons & Dragons from 1st until 4th. They haven't reappeared in 5th, but since the common Rock Gnome of 5e has absorbed more tinkery aspects to its fluff (building upon lore from AD&D that Krynnish tinker gnomes may be more of a specialist culture of rock gnomes than a true subrace), there's a good chance that they won't.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

Tinker Gnomes appeared in Dragonlance Adventures (1e), Tales of the Lance (2e) and The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (2e) for this edition.

Dragonlance Adventures Stats:

Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 6/18, Dexterity 8/18, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 8/18, Wisdom 3/12, Charisma 3/18
Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Dexterity, -1 Strength (normal gnomes had no ASAs in this edition)
Class Locked: A minoi can only take levels in the Tinker class, but its advancement in that class is unlimited.
+1 racial bonus to saving throws vs. wands/staves/rods/spells per 3.5 points of Constitution.
Infravision 60 feet
80% chance to detect grade/slope in a passage.
70% chance to detect unsafe walls, ceilings or floors.
60% chance to determine approximate depth underground.
50% chance to determine direction of travel underground.
+1 racial bonus to attack rolls against kobolds and goblins.
-4 to Armor Class against gnolls, bugbears, ogres, trolls, oni, giants and titans.

Tales of the Lance Stats:

Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 6/18, Dexterity 8/18, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 8/18, Wisdom 3/12, Charisma 3/18
Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Dexterity, -1 Strength (unclear if this stacks with the normal gnomish +1 Int/-1 Wis)
Class & Level Limits: Fighter 11, Illusionist 15, Cleric of the Holy Orders 9. Thief 13, Tinker Unlimited
Can speak to burrowing mammals.
+1 racial bonus to saving throws vs. wands/staves/rods/spells per 3.5 points of Constitution.
Infravision 60 feet
Whenever a minoi attempts to use a magical item that is not a weapon, armor, shield, illusionist item or duplicates thieving abilities, there is a 20% chance the item will not work at that first attempt.
+1 racial bonus to attack rolls against kobolds and goblins.
-4 to Armor Class against gnolls, bugbears, ogres, trolls, oni, giants and titans.


CBoG&H Stats:

Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 6/18, Dexterity 8/18, Constitution 8/18, Intelligence 8/18, Wisdom 3/12, Charisma 3/18
Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Dexterity, -1 Strength, -1 Wisdom
Infravision 60 feet
Detect Underground Features: Sloping Passages (1-5 on a d6), Flawed Stonework (1-7 on a d10), approximate depth underground (1-4 on a d6) and approximate direction underground (1-3 on a d6).
Gain a +1 bonus to save vs. spell for every 3.5 points of Constitution.
-4 bonus to Armor Class against all Giant class creatures.

3rd Edition[edit]

Tinker Gnomes appeared in the Dragonlance Campaign Setting and Races of Ansalon sourcebooks for this edition. Both versions of their stats were identical.

-2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom
Small
Base speed 20 feet
Guild Affiliation: Choose between the Craft Guilds, Technical Guilds and Sage Guilds. Membership in the Craft Guilds grants you a +2 racial bonus to all Crafts checks, membership in the Technical Guilds grants you a +2 racial bonus to all Profession checks, and membership in the Sage Guilds grants you a +2 racial bonus to all Knowledge checks.
+2 racial bonus on Craft (Alchemy) and Craft (Tinkering) checks.
+2 racial bonus on Will saves.
Favored Class: Special - A minoi's first class they take becomes their favored class.

Races of Ansalon also introduced a new subrace of tinker gnome, originating from members of the biological science guilds that migrated to the Great Moors of Nordmaar. There, they have evolved into a culturally and physically distinct branch of the family tree, having changed their fixation from mechanical and chemical sciences to biological sciences. They manage to be even ruder than regular tinker gnomes, between their tendency to regard any non-Wild Gnome as another animal to study and their own coarse, bestial cultural traits.

For a Wild Gnome in 3e, use the 3e Tinker Gnome profile above, with the following changes:

Ability score modifiers are changed to -2 Strength +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
Replace Guild Affiliation and racial bonuses to Alchemy and Tinkering with a +2 racial bonus on Handle Animal, Knowledge (Nature) and Survival checks.
+2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison an disease.
Favored Class: Ranger

4th Edition[edit]

Tinker Gnomes appeared in Dragon Magazine #422 for this edition.

Ability Scores: +2 Intelligence, +2 Dexterity OR +2 Constitution
Size: Small
Speed: 5 squares
Vision: Low-light
Skill Bonuses: +2 Arcana, +2 Thievery
Racial Power - Lab Conditioning: Once per encounter, as an Immediate Reaction to being missed by an attack, OR to being hit or missed by an Area or Close attack, you can halve the damage taken (if any) and shift half your speed.
Quick Fix: When making Arcana checks to disable, identify or sense magical pheomena, or Thievery checks to pick locks, identify devices or disable devices, you can do so as a minor action instead of a standard action at the cost of suffering a -4 penalty to the check.
Use What's At Hand: You have Proficiency with Improvised Weapons.

Sane Tinkers?[edit]

Now, you might be wondering: since the minoi's issue with doing science sensibly is the result of a curse, have there ever been any tinker gnomes who broke free of it?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes. It's a rare phenomenon - when first introduced in Dragonlance Adventures, the rules given were that each year, a tinker gnome must roll a D100; if they score a 100, they roll again, and a second result of a 100 means they have broken the curse. These minoi are calmer, more sensible, lose the aesthetic fixations of their kinsfolk, and are focused on making machinery that works instead of just doing things for the sake of it.

So, of course, their cursed kin have the audacity to call them "mad gnomes".

Sourcebooks would ultimately reveal that, on the mysterious continent of Taladas, so-called "mad gnomes" are in fact the norm; there, they call themselves the Gnomoi, or "Thinker Gnomes", and look with some disdain upon their cursed cousins, regarding them as... well, an imbecilic relation you are obligated to keep from hurting themselves.

Another source of "mad gnomes", in the more cross-over friendly AD&D edition at least, is gnomes from off-world who study from the minoi, learn the useful aspects of science, and then go off and work real science on their own without all of the unnecessary bells and whistles. In AD&D 1e, an off-world gnome had a 1% chance to turn into a "mad gnome", retaining their former abilities but gaining the ability to take levels in the Tinker class, and made this check each time they had spent at least 6 months interacting regularly with Krynnish tinker gnomes.

3e, of course, simplified this by just making Mad Gnomes into a new gnomic subrace, with statblocks repeated in the Dragonlance Campaign Setting and Races of Krynn sourcebooks.

Dragonlance Adventures Stats (AD&D1e):

A Mad Gnome uses their original stats as either a Krynnish Gnome or an off-world Gnome. However, it gains a +5 bonus to any success roll involved in creating a device, and its devices are automatically reduced 1d6 sizes, to represent their greater clarity and lack of the "bigger is better" fixation of minoi.

3e Stats:

+2 Dexterity, -2 Strength
Small
Base speed 20 feet
+2 racial bonus on Craft (Alchemy) and Craft (Tinkering) checks.
+2 racial bonus on Open Lock and Disable Device checks.
Favored Class: Special - A gnomoi's first class they take becomes their favored class.