Deep Gnome

Hidden in the depths of the Underdark live the svirfneblin, or deep gnomes. Reclusive, suspicious, and resentful of intrusion into their cavern homes, the deep gnomes share little of the humor or openness of their surface cousins. Where a rock gnome community bursts with energy, excitement, and laughter, a svirfneblin city is a dull and colorless place of echoing silence and furtive motion in the shadows. All hands are raised against the svirfneblin—or so the deep gnomes believe, anyway.

The deep gnomes may be the world’s stealthiest and most elusive folk. Centuries upon centuries of surviving the deadly perils of the Underdark have bred in this race an amazing gift for avoiding attention. In their cavern homes they are nearly undetectable with magic, and even in the strange and threatening (to them) surface world, the deep gnomes’ natural stealth makes them difficult to spot or catch.

Svirfneblin have gnarled physiques, brown or gray skin, gray eyes, and gray hair (although males are bald). They tend to be sullen, withdrawn, and suspicious to a fault.


Very few of the Underdark towns and strongholds of the deep gnomes are known to the surface world.

Four years ago, several hundred svirfneblin from the city of Blingdenstone were driven to the surface in the Silver Marches when their city was overrun by drow-summoned demons. These exiles sought refuge in the lands of Silverymoon and are occasionally seen in the North.

Racial Traits

  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength. Svirfneblin are quick but not terribly strong.
  • Small: As a Small creature, a svirfneblin gains a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks, but he uses smaller weapons than humans use, and his lifting and carrying limits are three-quarters of those of a Medium character.
  • Svirfneblin base land speed is 20 feet.
  • Low-Light Vision: A svirfneblin can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. He retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • Darkvision: Svirfneblin can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and svirfneblin can function just fine with no light at all.
  • Stonecunning: This ability grants a svirfneblin a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn’t stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A svirfneblin who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a svirfneblin can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A svirfneblin can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up. Svirfneblin have a sixth sense about stonework, an innate ability that they get plenty of opportunity to practice and hone in their underground homes.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Svirfneblin may treat gnome hooked hammers as martial weapons rather than exotic weapons.
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects. Svirfneblin are resistant to magic.
  • Add +1 to the Difficulty Class for all saving throws against illusion spells cast by svirfneblin. This adjustment stacks with those from similar effects.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against kobolds and goblinoids. Svirfneblin battle these creatures frequently and practice special techniques for fighting them.
  • +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against all creatures. Any time a creature loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class, such as when it’s caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too.
  • +2 racial bonus on Listen checks. Svirfneblin have keen ears.
  • +2 racial bonus on Craft (alchemy) checks. A svirfneblin’s sensitive nose allows him to monitor alchemical processes by smell.
  • +2 racial bonus on Hide checks. A svirfneblin is an expert at remaining unseen. This bonus improves to +4 underground.
  • Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day—speak with animals (burrowing mammal only, duration 1 minute). A svirfneblin with a Charisma score of at least 10 also has the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation. Caster level 1st; save DC 10 + svirfneblin’s Cha modifier + spell level. 1/day—resistance, daze, lullaby. Caster level equals one-half character level, DC 10 + spell level + Cha modifier.
  • Favored Class: Rogue. A multiclass svirfneblin’s rogue class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty.

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