We’re rushing headlong into year 2 of the Coldforged book writing, and I’m going to hopefully tackle here as many things to get ready to have the book printed as possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch here. I’m also going to be pushing through “Completed” content as well when the time comes. Hopefully little of it needs much balance testing! This time, I’m talking about the Gnomes on the continent, The reclusive Izkoret, and Halirath.
Railing against Gnomes
for the very, very longest time, I had it in for halflings and gnomes. Not only did I dislike them, but I had also decided that I didn’t even want them or need them in my world. I’d decided long ago that these two Player Races were simply not going to be available.
However, as time passed, I grew softer on the subject. I decided that if I was to have them, that the story they told was to be as bleak and interesting as the rest of the continent. These races were not exempt simply because they had a more whimsical tradition.
Halflings were the first to get a strong story, as a friend of mine wanted to play one in a game I was running and made him a pirate captain, and created Brokensail. This leads me down the path of creating and fleshing out one of my favorite parts of the world, The pirate city, and that brings us back to gnomes. It took a while, but I think I have a story that I like, is grim and interesting, and that fits in my world. Take a look.
Izkoret and Halirath
Gnomes have always been reclusive, but the Izkoreth takes it to a level that is unmatched on Tysis. Most of the other lands have integrated populations and see multiple races as contributing to the greater whole, Izkoreth has kept itself apart from the rest of the continent, and truth be told no one knows where the cities are. There are rumors and ideas, but it is always assumed to be in a far out of the way and secluded spot that few can access and fewer return.
Izkoret and Halirath are twin cities, one on the north bank, and the other on the south, of an unnamed river in a wide and pleasant valley ringed by large hills and a trio of massive mountains called, buy the gnomes Meiara ( Creativity) Loria (Imagination) and Duthar (Persistence). The southern expanse of the broad valley is completely forested and logged for fuel during the winters, and the north is rolling fields of wheat and grain, tended in the spring to produce the food for the cities.
Izkoreth, the smaller of the two cities, is a compact and bustling city, with busy markets, pleasant gardens, and hustling thoroughfares. The buildings are all well kept even if they are of styles that faded from use ages ago, and the clean and clear cobblestones are worn, but well maintained.
Gnomes themselves, in the city of gnomes, are a fairly uncommon sight. Each of the thousands of gnomes that live in the city is busy, every day, researching, honing, and perfecting the craft they have chosen, absorbed into the work that they have decided, from a young age, is theirs to bring onto the world. Long ago, the denizens of Izkoret and Halirath created legions of subservient constructs, ranging from messenger snakes to merchant proxies through to guardians and implements of war. The Gnomes are so absorbed by their work that they rely exclusively on these constructs to maintain and execute the duties of their household faithfully, bringing each researcher or crafter food at the right time, equipment when needed, and keeping the house clean and tidy.
These constructs are also kept in charge of defending, and at times instigating, protective measures to prevent anyone from knowing the location of the cities. The one known way in has a massive guard stationed around the clock, lead by a number of warrior gnomes who have dedicated themselves to the art of war. It is here, that the cutting edge of warrior construct is being developed and deployed, from the remote workshops and onto the rare battlefields of the Izkoret valley.
The singular approach to gnomish living has lead to some unexpected outcomes that Izkoreth is either ignoring or assuming another researcher is taking care of. The first, and perhaps greatest issue, is that many gnomes never encounter another gnome outside of their professional conclave for decades, if not longer. This seclusion leaves many of the gnomes passing on without issuing offspring, and the decline in the population is noticeable and increasing with each decade. On a not unknowable timeline, Izkoreth will be devoid of gnomes, and home only to a city of constructs.
Second, the constructs are themselves an issue. Each day, they are required to be wound, either physically in older models, or magically in the newer versions. Over the course of the day, their energy is consumed and they approach the new day sluggishly until powered up by a specialized group of gnomes. this has led many gnomes to commit themselves to the research of how to artificially imbue life into constructs in a more permanent manner.
Here in Izkoret, the gnomes live long, committed lives attended by their servent automata, who guard, feed, shelter and provide for their masters. They assemble in their conclaves once in a while, discuss their deeds and abilities, and attempt to avoid being on the shortlist of gnomes who anger their fellows.
This desire to be cordial and fairly innocuous is because the highest punishment in Izkoret is to be appointed Prime Cognitor, the leader of the gnomes, for a term of five years. This individual must stop all of their research and attend to the needs of the city and its inhabitants for the full five years, using their own money, resources, and abilities towards maintaining the city. Additionally, there is no restriction on successive terms, and a poor administrator is more likely to get a second term than they are to be replaced, in continuous punishment for their deeds.
I’ve not yet spoken of Halirath, because that city, though a twin to Izkoret, is an unpleasant and vile twin. Devoid of gnomes, the cities shining brass and bronze domes fade to green and grey, abandoned years ago. Within the city, there is still a substantial population of individuals living here. When a gnome passes away, their constructs become unsupervised and unregulated. Left on their own and often forgotten, they have taken to caring for each other. Under the cover of night, the newly freed constructs will be contacted by an agent from Halirath, and they will move from Izkoret under the cover of night to the “abandoned” city across the river.
Within this fully construct controlled city, there are some very independent automatons that have decided it could just be better for the rest of their friends and allies in Izaket if something tragic happened to the remaining Gnomes. This has led to independent constructs infiltrating gnome households, turning their constructs against them and then carefully picking off the vulnerable and weak in order to free their trapped compatriots. Though many of them are bound by clockwork gears and magical empowerment and have to sneak into the city to be recharged each day, they dream of a day where they are able to roam the world at large, free of their clockwork chains and gnomish oppressors.
what happens here in the future is unknown, and few Izkoreth really understands either their predicament or a solution to it. Many who do flee the realm, which they are allowed to do, upon a sworn and magically binding oath to speak nothing of the location or disposition of the city. Those that leave voluntarily without swearing the oath are ruthlessly hunted down by cadres of constructs with no mercy, sent to slay the betrayer.
So, that’s my gnomes! until next time!