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Author Topic: The Black Gnomes of Northern Sarvonia  (Read 2422 times)
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Gaffin
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« on: 15 January 2009, 04:57:37 »

I decided to take the initiative and throw something definitive into the mix, seeing how everything that we have up to this point is fragmentary and incomplete. All aspects of this entry are up to debate and discussion, but please note that I have other concepts and ideas that I simply have not implemeted into this entry itself yet.

Special thanks to Azhira, Mannix, Judith, Alysse and anyone else who offered their input. Hopefully this is at least remotely representative of what the final entry will look like.

------------------------------------------------

Overview. Nestled within the reaches of the Vindel Mountains live an enigmatic and oft-overlooked people. These solitary and diminutive figures are, to many in the south no more than the stuff of songs and tales, a source of macabre rumour; to others, the shadow of a threat; a whisper of darkness carried by the swift winds. But, ridiculous as these claims may be, many of them have some base of truth.

The Black Gnomes of Northern Sarvonia are undoubtedly an abnormal people, whose shrouded ways have given rise to irrational supposition among the civilized peoples of Santharia. But the knowledge that has been gathered of them supports the notion of a hardy, innovative society with many unique merits of its own, including productive trade, unique traditions and beliefs, and a fascinatingly complex system of alchemy comparable - in many respects - to that of the Gnorians. Naturally curious and resourceful, Black Gnomes share with their southern counterparts the innate desire to unlock the mysteries of the elements and apply them to their daily lives.

However, as similarities are apparent between the two cultures, their differences are even more so. Black Gnomes are bulky, tough and animalistic, and possess skin ranging from dark brown to jet black; their hair is mostly long and unkempt, kept thick against the cool climate of the local region; and clothing often consists of simple articles made with fur. Due to their isolation, these gnomes have to fight a constant battle against their surroundings, leading to the necessity of skilled hunters and trade workers in order to maintain the health of the tribe.

The Black Gnomes are, in principal, the bizarre result of a race that has altered its beliefs and way of life in order to better survive the unforgiving Northlands.

Appearance. One of the most apparent physical attributes of the Black Gnomes is the tone of their skin; similar to the Kanapan men in the south, their hue ranges from dark brown to jet black. With faces unseemly, thick eyebrows crown their bulbous eyes and nasty black boils dominate their visage. This affliction, which they refer to as “The Plague”, also causes the nose to swell considerably. Its origin remains uncertain despite zealous research by gnomish alchemists, but a therapeutic cream has been developed which reduces its effects, if only marginally. As a result, those with clearer skin are considered enviably beautiful in Black Gnome society.

Typically, gnomish hair is light in colour, the majority being either white or grey. It is considered insignificant and usually neglected, kept long and unkempt - however, some female warriors prefer to cut and tie their hair in some way to prevent it from being a hindrance during the hunt. Most males also allow their beards to grow long, in order to cover the unsightly boils that they bear. These too are left filthy and untamed.

Akin to the rest of their race, the Black Gnomes are built small and nimble. The average male stands slightly over a ped, and can reach up to half a ped taller. Additionally, this northern variation is built with stronger and stockier limbs, and the females - who, for reasons unknown, undergo an extra period of growth before peaking in height - can maintain a figure comparable to that of a dwarf.

Coat of Arms. N/A

Territory. Popular theory dictates that the Black Gnomes are found exclusively in the southeastern corner of Northern Sarvonia, near the Vindel Mountains and around Chapel Fjord. It is thought that until recently, a low population prevented the gnomes from spreading to other areas - and in addition to their relationship with the Kanapan men they saw no benefit in doing so.

With recent rises in population due to a more sophisticated way of life – due, in some part to their contact with Santharia - some groups have begun to spread both south and east in order to alleviate some of the congestion among the primary settlements. These sub-tribes have been observed to be very small, and most do not exceed a dozen members strong; but their relatively close proximity allows them to maintain collaboration with their peers and slowly grow in prosperity at the same time. Eventually, these tribes may become “proxies” of a sort, revolving around a larger central hub – but the realization of such a possibility is still a long way off.

People. The Black Gnomes are very reclusive and wary when it comes to outside contact; indeed, even though they conduct significant trade with the Kanapan, their southern neighbors know very little of what occurs within their society - and it is important to note that due to their tendency to isolate themselves, field expeditions to Black Gnome tribes are few and far between.

In order to enter a settlement, one must present an object of worth; not coin or silk or other symbols of wealth, but a trinket of elaborate, handcrafted design, or an impressive tool. The gnomes value material items above all else, and this challenge is undergone in order to exhibit the worthiness of a visitor. If one does not arrive with such a symbol of prowess or craftsmanship, they will not pass the borders of the land. This is where traders are stopped; at small designated stations - and any attempt to pass unbidden is swiftly thwarted by the imposing warriors that guard it.

As Black Gnomes revere material items, so too they honour those who create them. Craftsmen and artisans are highly respected – and in fact, the majority of gnomish men elect to pursue a practice in one of these or a related field. The implications of this infatuation are manifold; they give rise to an extremely productive society, in which every member is contributing to growth and innovation, and a unique approach to alchemy produces results rivaling those of the Gnorians. As such, creations of the Black Gnomes are of high quality and effectiveness. Visiting scholars are not allowed to carry back any items of high tribal value, which hinders the further study of these creations; nonetheless, recent gnomish researchers have included within their notes brief explanations of a few marvelous brews, leading to the popular belief that they produce almost magical results.

Because Gnomish men dedicate much of their time to craft, the women must tend to other duties, such as the upkeep and protection of the tribe. Their physique makes them ideal candidates for this; females undergo an extra bout of growth before maturity, granting them the strength and endurance to perform strenuous tasks more efficiently than most men. Because of this, it is typically Black Gnome men who focus on science and craft, while the women assume the role of the warrior, and attend to the general needs of the tribe. However, as gender is a non-issue in this culture, men and women are free to pursue whatever interests them best.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Black Gnomes is their almost backward philosophy; they are able to seize hackneyed values that we take for granted and twist them into something of strangely equal effectiveness. A prime example of this is the act of mating. It is considered by the gnomes to be one of the greatest acts of creation imaginable, to form that which in its own turn can also create. Because of this, it is treated almost as any other craft, rather than the union between two lovers. Mature women are always given the right to select their partner, based upon his skill as a craftsman – and while the man is free to refuse, most do not pass down what they consider to be a great honour.

Once the proposal is accepted, preparations are made for the ceremony – not for that of marriage; the Black Gnomes do not maintain a bond such as this – but for the act of mating itself. During this ritual, the entire tribe is present and encircles the couple as they undergo the ceremony. It varies between each instance, but normally the onlookers sing or chant while this occurs.


The religious beliefs of the Black Gnomes give rise to very bizarre customs. As their worship is fundamentally focused on reality and the material, the gnomes consider pain to be the most pure state of being; the greatest sensation conceivable. Because of this it is a major focus of the Black Gnomes to introduce pain into their everyday lifestyles. Cutting one’s body with a ceremonial knife and spreading salt over the wounds are mere examples of how they express their devotion to the reality of the world, and all of its components. Not surprisingly, Black Gnomes have one of the highest tolerations for pain observed among sentient species in all of Caelereth.

Due to these beliefs, there exist no concrete laws to punish bad moral or ethical behaviour; Black Gnomes focus more on determining one’s place in relation to the rest of the world than on strong moral goodness. The ambiguous nature of their ideals does not hinder the development of their society, though – in fact, this concentration on individual improvement and this desire to become one with reality is so consuming and rapturous that, although petty crime and theft may not be uncommon, the locals live in greater coexistence than even the most harmonious of southern cities.

Religion. Outwardly, the Black Gnomes exhibit no apparent traits of religious belief; no totems or idols adorn their settlements, no prayers are spoken, and no days are set aside for worship. At first glance, it appears as if the tribe has no semblance of faith in that which is beyond our world at all. However, upon closer inspection it becomes apparent that they do share common beliefs, although their methods of expressing these are unusual.

In the shallowest of explanations, the Black Gnomes revere all that which composes our world; they value material wealth, physical stimulation and the provocation of the senses. Every aspect of the gnomes’ culture is based upon these foundations, so what may first appear to be an absence of faith is simply celebration of life in every respect. Ironically, the Black Gnome people can be considered one of the most devout and dedicated on the whole northern continent, as they do not separate lifestyle and religion; in all practicality, the two can be considered the same…

According to the Black Gnome tribe, the six senses are mortality; whatever one can experience through these senses is reality, and they act as anchors to the world as we know it. Through their complete removal, one’s essence - translated as “the Self” – is truly at one with the world.

Additionally, they say that Caelereth is made of a finite and theoretically quantitative amount of “life materials,” and the entire world is a combination of these. The gnomes explain that when all of the senses are removed through death, the life materials of a sentient being are thrust back into “True Reality.” The foundation of Black Gnome religion, this True Reality is referred to as the pure form of all being; a great stream, moving at an unimaginable speed. Within this stream, the life materials of an individual can eventually be lost, recycled and returned, composing completely separate objects and effectively losing sentience. But if one retains sentience, then one may experience the perpetual blissfulness and stimulation that results from the absence of the senses.

As a result, to remain in the True Reality and experience its careless euphoria, a person is required in life to “distill” their being, transferring enough of their essence to physical objects so as to enter True Reality as pure as possible – in other words, one must create in order to be, imparting a piece of themselves into each item and hoping to leave enough behind to act as a drawing force. Eventually, given that the being in question is pure enough, he or she will be violently cast out of the moving stream and back into their own body; as long as one continues to do this through each life, one can traverse the cycle an indefinite amount of times.

In relation to these concepts, the gnomes consider pain to be a form of communication with the world, a crude way to experience one aspect of True Reality - which is why they are so enamored with the sensation and include it in every aspect of their lives.
« Last Edit: 24 January 2009, 06:53:48 by Gaffin » Logged

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Artimidor Federkiel
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« Reply #1 on: 16 January 2009, 04:21:01 »

I'm happy to see the gnomes up there getting their well earned development attention, and of course there's no-one better than to write that Gnomish stuff than you, Gaffin :D - Some notes while reading what you have so far:

- You should mention where the Vindel Mountains are located exactly (eastern part of Northern Sarvonia), close to which tribes etc. so that one gets a more concrete idea in the Overview. Had to look that up as well, cause we don't have that much development as of yet up there in this particular region.

- Use British spelling, like "rumour", "neighbours" etc.

- There seems to be always confusion what to write with an uppercase and what not... Tribe names should be written with an uppercase, so it's "Gnorians".

- If we write somewhere that we're referring to something we should put it between quotation marks, like:

Quote
This affliction, which they refer to as the "Plague", also causes the nose to swell considerably.

- I like that Appearance part, Gaffin :) The more distinct, unique and interesting a tribe looks to me, the better, and this one already shows a fascinating profile. Here we have something special, something that already expresses itself in the Appearance of these guys, very fitting! Makes one want to read more, and that can hardly be wrong. thumbup

- I see the People section is still in the work, so I hope for more stuff to come to flesh these guys out, what you have is fine already, but I'm sure you've got some more ideas to integrate to make these gnomes an addition up North we don't want to miss :D

So nice job so far, Gaffin, you've received your reputation point easily for getting this one started and presenting nice ideas and a well formulated start! Let's hope you can continue with it soon!  grin

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Alysse the Likely
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« Reply #2 on: 16 January 2009, 05:19:22 »

Yes, definitely an interesting read.  I'll be happy to do a uri-check for you anytime, Gaffin.

Since these fellows live around the Vindel Mountains, they may occasionally have run-ins with the Kanapan people to the South, or possibly Tadius' Wyrek birds (another good entry in the making)  so there are a couple of possible cross-references for your entry, Gaffin.   Just thought I'd mention it. 


I look forwards to reading the final entry!


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« Reply #3 on: 24 January 2009, 06:48:42 »

Thanks for the comments, guys!  thumbup

Some changes, edits and additions have been made, but there is still more I wish to add to both the People and Religion sections once I get time to put them into words.

In the meantime, I have one major concern with the entry so far, and that is how it flows; in partcular, the last two sections. They are quite large and contain many different ideas - and because of that, I feel as if I'm rambling on. If anyone can comment on this or offer any ideas to remedy it, it'd be greatly appreciated.  ;)
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Azhira Styralias
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« Reply #4 on: 26 February 2009, 23:35:55 »

For the religion section, I would summarize it for now and perhaps use the ideas for a separate religion entry. Much like my Kaaer'dar'shin tribe, I had to greatly shorten the overall religion section in the main entry as there was simply too much to explain. I wouldn't confuse the reader or draw them away from the main points of the tribe entry by trying to expound on the religious concepts now. Remember, the tribe entry is mainly summary and anything beyond a few paragraphs can get its own entry later.

Otherwise, this is an excellent start! How exciting to finally see the Black Gnomes get some definition.  thumbup :D
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« Reply #5 on: 27 February 2009, 00:35:36 »

Thanks, Azhira. As my religious concept for them is rather broad, it will require a lot of wordy explanation... perhaps it will indeed need a seperate entry to do it justice.

As for the rest of the entry, it's coming along slowly, but once again high school is taking its toll on me. So while I am working on it, don't expect anything major soon.
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